Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), is one of the two the most senior of the 20 black women currently serving in Congress, defended her decision not to attend President Donald Trump's joint address to Congress on Tuesday night in a fiery statement earlier in the evening.
"This is ceremonial," Waters told MSNBC, flanked by Rep. Eliot Engel, who pledged not to greet the president at the address. "In this ceremony, people laugh, they smile, they shake hands, they hug each other, they honor the president. I'm not about any of that."
"I'm prepared to interact with the president only when he puts up his budget and his agenda that I'm going to have to fight," Waters continued. "So let's not talk about this ceremony in relationship to public policy."
"I don't choose to go, I don't choose to go, I don't choose to honor him, I've said that, and I won't be a part of the ceremony, and that's that," she concluded.
The address begins at 9 p.m. Eastern Tuesday, sans Waters.
Correction: March 1, 2017
A previous version of this story misstated Rep. Maxine Waters' ranking among black women members of Congress. Waters is one of the two most senior among the 20 black women currently serving in Congress.