Dozens of federal workers will join Democrats at State of the Union

Democrats send message at SOTU

Washington — President Trump is expected to seek common ground during his State of the Union address. But Democrats are skeptical about the president's plans.

"President Trump will say tonight the state of our union is strong. The American people know the truth," said Sen. Chuck Schumer.

Democrats panned the president's speech in advance. Women lawmakers, dressed in white, scoffed at his vow to unify. Their party will send a message of its own tonight, inviting dozens of federal workers and contractors who just weathered a shutdown, to attend the address.

California Sen. Kamala Harris is bringing Trisha Pesiri-Dybvik. She and her husband are both air traffic controllers.

"Just to have that hanging over our head, both of us not getting a paycheck, it put us in a difficult spot," Pesiri-Dybvik said.

"The decision to shut down this government for the sake of a vanity project called the wall was not without harm," Harris said.

The speech comes as some in the president's own party get bolder about opposing him, voting against his plan to pull troops out of Syria and urging him not to circumvent Congress and declare a national emergency at the border.

"If he were to do that it would likely end up in litigation and be dragged on for years," said Sen. John Cornyn.

But Mr. Trump is unlikely to drop the idea, setting up a battle within the GOP.

"National emergencies that have been issued in the past have not been contentious. I'm pretty sure this one would be," said Sen. Mitch McConnell.

The Democratic response to the State of the Union will be delivered from Atlanta by Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost her bid for Georgia governor in November. Democrats still consider her a rising star in the party and are hoping she'll mount a bid for the Senate in 2020.

Jeff Flake: There's room for common ground with Democrats
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    Nancy Cordes is CBS News' congressional correspondent.