As members of Congress prepare for the rescheduled State of the Union on Tuesday, several have selected guests primed for politics for an evening in the shadow of the recent and possibly looming government shutdowns.
Each member of Congress may bring a guest to the address, and many representatives choose guests who highlight key policy issues or stances that they support.
For example: Democratic presidential candidate California Sen. Kamala Harris announced that she will bring as her guest Trisha Pesiri-Dybvik, who lost her home in the Thomas Fire, a wildfire that ravaged Southern California for more than six months last year. Pesiri-Dybvik and her husband both work for air traffic control and were then furloughed during the government shutdown, Harris’ office said in a statement.
“Trisha’s story is just one of many stories I heard during the shutdown of Americans whose lives were upended and who faced those difficult days with strength and resilience,” Harris said in a statement, adding, “Washington needs to hear her story and avoid another harmful shutdown.”
Another example: Rep. Rob Bishop’s office confirmed that the Utah Republican will bring Jennie Taylor as his guest. Taylor is the widow of former North Ogden mayor and Utah Army National Guard member Maj. Brent Taylor, who died in Afghanistan last year.
Here’s who different members of Congress will bring as their guests to the State of the Union:
- Sen. Kamala Harris (D-California) — air traffic control specialist Trisha Pesiri-Dybvik, who lost her home in the 2017 Thomas Fire and was furloughed during the government shutdown
- Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) — mother and daughter Albertina Contreras Teletor and Yakelin Garcia Contreras, who were separated at the southern border last spring
House of Representatives
- Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-California) — Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivor and gun reform activist Cameron Kasky
- Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Kansas) — health care advocate and mother of child with pre-existing conditions Laura Robeson
- Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-New Jersey) — former Trump National Golf Club employee and undocumented immigrant rights activist Victorina Morales
- Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) — Jennie Taylor, widow of Maj. Brent Taylor of the Utah Army National Guard who was killed in Afghanistan in November
- Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-California) — Sandra Diaz, former undocumented immigrant who was a housekeeper to President Donald Trump
- Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-Florida) — women’s health advocate Michelle Garcia
- Rep. Paul Tonko (D-New York) — League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski