Guest list: Here’s who you’ll see at the State of the Union
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by CQ Roll Call | 2.4.19
President Donald Trump will deliver his second State of the Union address Tuesday night. Two of his former housekeepers, both immigrants, will watch from the House chamber.
Each member of Congress gets at least one ticket for a guest, and though some bring family members, many are accompanied by a constituent whose story helps illustrate a policy priority.
For example, despite some speculation that the freshman congresswoman would be accompanied by Cardi B, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announced Monday that her guest would be Ana Maria Archila of the Center for Popular Democracy. Archila called attention to the issue of sexual violence when she confronted then-Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake in a Capitol elevator and challenged him to vote against Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court.
Many policy appeals are being made more urgently than in prior years given the high stakes of the president’s address.
Trump said Friday there is a “a good chance” he could declare a national emergency at the southern border to unlock Defense Department dollars for a wall Tuesday night. And the February 15th deadline for a House and Senate panel to broach a deal and avert another government shutdown approaches.
Victorina Morales, an undocumented who worked as a housekeeper at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, until she went public to the New York Times, will be the guest of Democratic Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey.
Morales is living proof that Trump’s depiction of immigrants as murderers and drug dealers, the “scourge of society,” is false, Coleman said.
“I’ve invited Victorina so that he may look her in her eyes to tell his lies to a familiar face,” Watson Coleman said in a statement.
Here is who’s on the guest list for Tuesday.
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California: Trisha Pesiri-Dybvik, an air traffic controller and a mother of three who lost her home in the Travis wildfire, and soon after went without a paycheck during the 35-day shutdown.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York: Navy Lt. Cmdr. Blake Dremann, a transgender service member and the president of SPARTA, an LGBT military advocacy organization focused on transgender military advocacy.
Sen. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts: Varshini Prakash, executive director and co-founder of Sunrise, a movement of young people working to stop climate change. “Varshini is a powerful voice of her generation, leading an historic movement of young people who recognize that climate change is the most important issue facing the planet and its leaders,” Markey said.
Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon: Albertina Contreras, a mother detained in solitary confinement and separated from her 11-year-old daughter Yakelin when she sought asylum from domestic violence in Guatemala.
“We must bear witness to the suffering that Trump’s child separation policy inflicted,” Merkley said.
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio: Jamael Tito Brown, mayor of Youngstown, the beneficiary of a recent U.S. Department of Transportation BUILD grant.
Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nevada: Tanya Flanagan, a constituent and county employee who has survived breast cancer three times, who would be at risk of losing health care coverage without the Affordable Care Act's protections for patients with preexisting conditions.
Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland: Lila Johnson, a grandmother and primary breadwinner, who has worked as a general cleaning services contractor at the U.S. Department of Agriculture for more than two decades. As it stands, Johnson will not receive compensation for the 35 days the government was partially shuttered.
Van Hollen and Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn. have introduced legislation to ensure low- to middle-income federal contractors, including janitorial staff and food service workers, receive backpay for income lost during the shutdown.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts: Sajid Shahriar, an employee of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development furloughed during the government shutdown. Executive vice president of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 3258, Shahriar organized rallies in Boston to urge an end to the shutdown.
Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon: Blumenauer will not attend the State of the Union address, but has asked Nate Mook, executive director of the Word Central Kitchen, to take his place. Word Central Kitchen provides food to people in need, and distributed meals to federal employees during the shutdown.
Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Oregon: Alexandria Goddard, who helped organize Portland's March for Our Lives while a student at Sunset High School. Goddard is currently a freshman at Portland State University.
Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Illinois: Tom Mueller, a soybean farmer whose income has taken a hit from trade policy under the Trump administration.
Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-New Jersey: Victorina Morales, an undocumented immigrant who worked as a housekeeper at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. Morales represents “the face of Donald Trump’s hypocrisy,” Coleman said.
The president stalled a budget deal for weeks, leaving federal paychecks in limbo, “by demonizing immigrants as the scourge of the country,” Coleman said in a statement. “Meanwhile, CEO Trump led a company that has relied extensively on the hard work of undocumented immigrants like my constituent Victorina to keep his resorts clean and his putting greens trimmed.”
Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, D-Virginia: Amer Al-Mudallal, a chemist and 22-year veteran of the chemical safety division of the Environmental Protection Agency. Both Amer and his wife, another EPA employee, were furloughed and missed their paychecks during the partial government shutdown.
Rep. Sharice Davids, D-Kansas: Laura Robeson, a mother and health care advocate from Prairie Village, whose 7-year-old son Danny was born prematurely and has cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and cortical vision impairment.
“Hosting her as my guest for the State of the Union is an opportunity to highlight the dangers of allowing insurance companies to discriminate against people based on their medical histories,” Davids said.
Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Illinois: Taylorville Fire Chief Mike Crews, who was instrumental in the emergency notification and disaster recovery efforts when a tornado struck the congressman’s hometown on Dec. 1, 2018.
Taylorville Fire Chief Mike Crews made many important decisions before the tornado struck on December 1st that undoubtedly saved lives. I am honored that he will be my guest at the State of the Union tomorrow. https://t.co/MxUox9q3vu— US Rep Rodney Davis (@RodneyDavis) February 4, 2019
Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pennsylvania: Jami Amo, a survivor of the 1999 Columbine school shooting. Amo became a gun safety activist after the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last year.
Rep. Val Demings, D-Florida: Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings and Ralph Velez, a federal employee at Orlando International Airport who worked without a paycheck during the partial government shutdown.
“I hope that the president can see the economic turmoil and stress that his decision to shut down the government has caused, and that he does not repeat that mistake on February 15th,” Velez said in a statement.
Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Florida: Manny Oliver, who started the organization Change the Ref after losing his son Joaquin in the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
Rep. Adriano Espaillat, D-New York: Yeni Gonzalez Garcia, a Guatemalan mother separated from her three children at the Arizona border last year.
“It’s a huge way to be able to honor someone who is gone, and to put a face behind not just the ones that we lost,” said mother Tracy Cangro.
Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tennessee: Gov. Bill Lee will join Fleischmann as his guest and meet with the entire Tennessee delegation.
Rep. Bill Foster, D-Illinois: Marilyn Weisner, executive director of the Aurora Food Pantry.
Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Florida: Kim Churches, CEO of the American Association of University Women, an organization that promotes education for women and girls.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Florida: Carlos Trujillo, U.S. Ambassador to the Organization of American States. Gaetz tweeted Trujillo has been a “key advisor” to the Trump administration on Venezuela policy.
Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas: Devani Gonzalez, a DACA recipient who aspires to be in law enforcement but is hindered due to her immigration status.
Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-California: Sandra Diaz, another former housekeeper who worked at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, as an undocumented immigrant. Diaz endured coercion, physical and verbal abuse, and threats of deportation from her supervisors there, Gomez said in a statement.
Diaz, who emigrated from Costa Rica, is now a legal resident and does not have to worry her attendance will tip off U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Rep. Jim Himes, D-Connecticut: Lane Murdock, a junior at Ridgefield High School student and co-founder of National School Walkout, which organized a massive student protest in the wake of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Washington: Lisa J. Graumlich, climate scientist and Dean of the College of the Environment at the University of Washington.
“Climate change is creating refugees, claiming lives and costing taxpayers billions of dollars. The Trump administration continues to push our planet down a path of destruction. Instead of tackling the problem head-on, President Trump is burying his head in the sand and handing out favors to his friends in the coal industry,” Jayapal said.
Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Michigan: Cathy Wusterbarth, of Oscoda, who has advocated for all levels of government to more urgently address toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination that has been found in drinking water in her community.
“Because of Cathy’s advocacy, the state and federal government have started to act to protect public health from dangerous PFAS chemicals,” Kildee said.
Rep. Mike Levin, D-California: Lucero Sanchez, a DACA recipient, student in environmental science at UC San Diego, and former intern on Levin’s campaign.
Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa: Jeff Chapman, battalion chief of the Clinton Fire Department, who has served with the department since 1995.
Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-New Jersey: Hing Foo Lee, brother of the late patient advocate John Lee, who was profiled in the Washington Post for his determination to vote in NJ-07 while dealing with stage IV cancer.
Rep. Grace Meng, D-New York: Jin Park of Flushing, Queens, the first Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient to be awarded the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship. Park is to study at the University of Oxford in England in the fall but fears he will not be permitted to re-enter the country.
“Inviting Jin Park to Washington for the State of the Union will bring more attention to his plight and show firsthand how President Trump’s un-American immigration policies are shattering the lives of DREAMers,” Meng said.
Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Florida: A 15-year-old student, Uma Menon of Winter Park, the winner of the congresswoman's State of the Union essay contest.
“It is because of the young students who led the Free Speech movement and unabashedly wore black protest bands that I am able to wear political t-shirts, express my beliefs, and assemble with other students at school today,” Menon wrote in an essay on the importance of youth civic engagement.
”Hi, hello? You’re coming to the State of the Union with me!”Broke the news to @WPHS_OCPS student Uma Menon that she WON our #SOTU essay contest. Learn more about Uma & her winning essay here: https://t.co/oIejdN7mzw #FL07 #FlaPol pic.twitter.com/8iSCMgkBin — Rep. Stephanie Murphy (@RepStephMurphy) January 31, 2019
Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Colorado: Elias, a DACA recipient and student in chemical and biological engineering, as well as biomedical engineering at Colorado State University. Elias emigrated from Mexico at a young age.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York: Ana Maria Archila, co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy. Archila made national headlines last year when she confronted then-Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, in a Capitol elevator and challenged him to vote against Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minnesota: Linda Clark, who fled Liberia and found refuge in the U.S. two decades ago under Deferred Enforced Departure, but who faces deportation as soon as March because the Trump administration has shuttered the program. “The President himself has expressed open hatred towards people fleeing what he calls ‘shithole countries’ like Liberia and Haiti and now he is acting on it,” Omar said. “I hope by hearing the stories of people directly impacted he can at long last find some empathy.”
Rep. Chris Pappas, D-New Hampshire: Pappas invited transgender veteran Tavion Dignard in order to call attention to the transgender military service ban.
“I came out as a transgender man because I wanted to live my authentic truth and because I wanted to be the person I needed when I was younger,” Dignard said in a statement. “Being denied that opportunity put up absurd discriminatory barriers and created serious trauma in my life.”
My guest for the #SOTU will be Tavion Dignard, a transgender Navy veteran. The Trump Admin’s transgender service ban makes America less safe and politicizes our military; everyone who is fit to serve should be treated equally. I’m proud to welcome to Tavion to the People’s House. pic.twitter.com/LLjWUoZYav— Congressman Chris Pappas (@RepChrisPappas) February 3, 2019
Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine: Joel Clement, a former Department of the Interior policy expert and whistleblower, who alleged the Trump administration retaliated against him for speaking out about the threat climate change poses to Native communities in Alaska after department higher-ups moved the biologist into the accounting department.
Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio: Dave Green, president of United Auto Workers Local 1112, which represents General Motors workers at the Lordstown plant, one of five North American plants GM is closing.
“Dave will be representing the hundreds of laid off GM Lordstown workers who deserve to be seen and heard. I thank him for his leadership, and I can’t imagine a better partner in this fight to save GM Lordstown,” Ryan said.
Rep. Kim Schrier, D-Washington: Issaquah resident Jenell Payne Tamaela. Jenell was diagnosed with stage 3c colon cancer in Summer, 2016. She has since become an advocate for better access to health care for people with pre-existing conditions, and lower costs of prescription drugs and health care coverage. Jenell and Rep. Schrier are two of an estimated 300,000 people with pre-existing conditions in the 8th District.
Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Michigan: Haley Petrowski, a cyberbullying prevention advocate and Adrian College student.
Correction: A previous version of this story misreported Sen. Jacky Rosen's guest as Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman. Rosen will take Tanya Flanagan, a constituent. Lindsey McPherson, Katherine Tully-McManus, Simone Pathe, Bridget Bowman and John Bennett contributed to this report.
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