Trump presidency shakes up longtime aisle seat-saving tradition for some

President Trump to address Congress
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Story highlights

  • New York Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel always arrives early to save a seat
  • Not this year, he said

(CNN)New York Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel has arrived bright and early to save a prime aisle seat for the President's joint congressional address every year since he was elected. But he announced Tuesday he won't angle for a coveted spot to get face time with President Donald Trump.

"I will not greet him or shake his hand," Engel said on the House floor.
The New York Democrat said he still plans to attend the speech, but for the first time in 29 years won't sit along the center aisle.
A few minutes prior to his remarks Engel was seen chatting with Missouri Republican Rep. Billy Long, who is sitting in an aisle seat four rows up from the well of the chamber. Long was an early Trump supporter.
"Unfortunately since January 20 the new administration has shown no interest in working with the Congress on both sides to tackle problems including Russian' unlawful interference in last year's presidential election," Engel said.
Another perennial seat-saver, Texas Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, was spotted in the chamber Tuesday morning wearing white, the color House Democratic women announced they would don for the prime-time speech to express support for women's rights. White was the color of the suffragette movement.
Jackson Lee, unlike previous years, did not appear to be leaving any belongings in an aisle seat to save the spot for later.
"At this hour, the congresswoman is not sure if she'll reserve an aisle seat," her spokeswoman told CNN. "Still playing things by ear."
Rep. Maxine Waters, a California Democrat, said she wouldn't attend the speech, her spokesperson said Tuesday.