It is traditional for congressmen and women to invite guests to the President’s State of the Union address. Last week, congressional Democrats used the opportunity to extend invitations that sent a clear message about their priorities in the coming year. CNN referred to the list of invitees as a “rebuke” to President Trump.
A transgender sailor, a family allegedly separated while attempting to enter the country via the Southern border, a furloughed government employee and a gun control advocate were all on the guest list for the State of the Union address. The people selected by Democrats are detailed below, along with the congressperson who invited them and their primary cause:
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA0: Guest Trisha Pesiri-Dybvik works as an aircraft controller, as does her husband. Both were furloughed during the recent government shutdown.
“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 “Washington needs to hear her story and avoid another harmful shutdown.”
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR): Guests Albertina Contreras Teletor and Yakelin Garcia Contreras, are mother and daughter and attempted to enter the USA from Mexico. The two were separated at the border during their attempt.
Sen. Kirsten Gilibrand (D-NY): Guest Blake Dremann is a Navy lieutenant commander. Dremann is also transgender and the invitation comes after a Supreme Court decision upholding President Trump’s ban on transgender service members. Gilibrand is a vocal opponent of the ban, and is seeking to create legislation allowing transgender service.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA): Guest Sajid Shahriar works for Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and protested the recent government shutdown.
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH): Guest Rita Lewis is petitioning for “pension reform”.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN): Guest Nicole Smith-Holt highlights prescription drug costs and universal healthcare. Smith-Holt’s son, Alec Smith, died from diabetic ketoacidosis. Smith-Holt alleges that her son passed because he was unable to afford insulin.
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA): Guest and high school shooting survivor Cameron Kasky is an advocate for gun control.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY): Guest Ana Maria Archila, who made headlines for confronting participants in Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing. .
Rep. Jimmy Gomez (R-CA): Sandra Diaz, claims to have worked at a New Jersey golf course owned by President Trump while she was in the country illegally.
Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY): Guest Jin Park, DACA recipient and “dreamer” came to the USA from Korea.
Each of the guests represents a distinct priority of the Democrat Party, and many of the invites are strategic. Many of the lawmakers mentioned are exploring presidential runs in 2020 and some, including Kamala Harris, have already begun campaigning.
The opportunity to invite guests and the chosen invitees showcases these Democrat leaders priorities and the causes they support. They also provide insight into strategy and plans for the party for the coming year.
~ Patriotic Freedom Fighter