WASHINGTON - New York Rep. Eliot Engel is breaking with his longstanding practice of sitting along the aisle in the House of Representatives to shake the president's hand before and after the President's annual address to Congress.
Engel, who represents parts of the Bronx and Westchester County, announced his intentions today in a speech on the House floor. He framed his decision as a protest against President Trump.
Engle had sat on the aisle for every presidential address to Congress since 1989 - a 29-year-streak - perfectly positioned for a handshake with the president and a moment on national TV.
He usually camps out all day in the House to get the aisle position, one of several lawmakers who engage in the practice. Collectively, they are called the Aisle Hogs.
Another Democratic Congressman, Bill Pascrell of New Jersey, who has also situated himself on the aisle in years past, will also be keeping his distance this year.
Democrats are under intense pressure from elements of their political base not to cooperate in any way with Trump.The polarization is so great, sitting along the aisle to shake the president's hand, would not have gone over well with some Democratic voters.
Engel's district tilts so Democratic, he did not face a Republican opponent in last fall's election.
Engel did attend Trump's inauguration last month, but only decided the day before.