In addition to being an opportunity for presidents to discuss topics of national importance, the State of the Union is an occasion for pageantry and political statements that is reflected in who’s on the guest list and what attendees wear.
Members of Congress can bring one guest to the president’s annual speech, and while that may be a spouse or relative, it could also be a constituent or person of note. The president also host guests who are often tied to the president’s speech, a tradition started by President Ronald Reagan, according to CNN.
As in years past, the guest list this year—for both Republicans and Democrats—reflects the current state of politics.
President Donald Trump’s guests:
The following guests who will sit with First Lady Melania Trump, reflect Trump’s stance on military, law enforcement, immigration, and the economy.
Corey Adams: A welder at Staub Manufacturing Solutions in Dayton, OH, who bought his first house with his wife last year.
Elizabeth Alvarado, Robert Mickens, Evelyn Rodriguez, and Freddy Cuevas: Two sets of parents whose respective children Nisa Mickens and Kayla were murdered. The MS-13 gang is said to be responsible for their deaths.
Corporal (Ret.) Matthew Bradford: The first blind, double amputee to re-enlist in the Marines after losing his legs and his sight in Iraq in 2007.
Jon Bridgers: Founder of the non-profit rescue organization the Cajun Navy, which helps people respond to flooding across the South. The Cajun Navy helped those in Texas after Hurricane Harvey.
David Dahlberg: A fire prevention technician station at the Pine Canyon Fire Station in Southern California who saved 62 people when their camp was surrounded by wildfires.
Ryan Holets: A police officer in Albuquerque, NM. He and his wife adopted a baby from opioid-addicted parents.
Ashlee Leppert: An aviation electronics technician in the U.S. Coast Guard who rescued women and children during the 2017 hurricane season.
Celestino “CJ” Martinez: A Supervisory Special Agent for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations unit who works to dismantle the MS-13 gang.
Staff Sgt. Justin Peck: A Staff Sergeant in the Army, who saved Chief Petty Officer Kenton Stacy’s life in Raqqa, Syria.
Preston Sharp: Sharp started the Flag and Flower Challenge (#FandFChallenge) to honor fallen veterans at their grave-sites.
Steve Staub and Sandy Keplinger: Brother and sister owners of Staub Manufacturing Solutions, which said it gave employees larger Christmas bonuses because of the recent changes to the tax law.
Democratic lawmaker guests:
In addition to other planned protests—Democratic women are wearing black in solidarity with #MeToo, or just not showing up at all—Democratic lawmakers’ guests’ can be viewed as a rebuke to the president.
Many of the guests are either a statement about immigration (and the stalled protections for DACA recipients), sexual harassment, or the devastation in Puerto Rico after hurricane Maria.
Karen Bahena (DACA recipient), Jessica Chilin-Hernández (Salvadoran TPS holder), Cindy Garcia (wife of deported Jorge Garcia), Aldo Solano (Dreamer),Viviana Andazola Marquez (father was detained by ICE), Hugo Alexander Acosta Mazariego (Dreamer), Nicolle Uria (Dreamer), Leonardo Reyes, (Dreamer), Jung Bin Cho (Dreamer), Nery Martinez (TPS holder), Leo Salinas Chacón (Dreamer), Antonio Valdovinos (Dreamer who was denied entry to the U.S. Marine Corps), Diego de la Vega (Dreamer and congressional intern), Edenilson Granados (TPS holder), Denea Joseph (UndocuBlack Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient), Adrian Escarate (Dreamer), Ana Campa Castillo (Dreamer), Amy Gottlieb (wife of detained immigration activist Ravi Ragbir), Elizabeth Vilchis (DACA recipient), Itayu Torres (DACA recipient), Christian Castaneda (DACA recipient), Melody Klingenfuss (DACA recipient), Leticia Herrera-Mendez (DACA recipient), Leslie Martinez (DACA recipient), Anarely Marquez (DACA recipient), Cesar Montelongo (DACA recipient), Gabriela Hernandez (DACA recipient), Esder Chong (DACA recipient), Dalia Medina (DACA recipient), Ivonne Orozco-Acosta (DACA recipient), Nelson Melgar (DACA recipient), America Moreno Jimenez (DACA recipient), Bennet Omalu (immigrant from Nigeria, who discovered Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy), Brandon Judd (president of the National Border Patrol Council), Jean Bradley Derenoncourt (Brockton City Council member, immigrant from Haiti, who recently became a U.S. citizen).
Sexual harassment and assault:
Jenna Ben-Yehuda (former State Department official, helped launch the #metoonatsec), Chessy Prout (sexual assault survivor), Erin Walton (executive director, Rape Victim Advocates in Chicago), Rose Gunter (niece of the late Recy Taylor, who never saw justice after being raped in Alabama in 1944), Anny Gonzalez (sexual harassment survivor), Patricia Teffenhart (executive director, New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault), Travis Moore (advocate for survivors of sexual harassment and violence), Laura Germino (co-founder, Coalition of Immokalee Workers), Danielle McGuire (historian who focuses on sexual assault and women of color), Faith Ann Rys (clinical therapist who specializes in victims of sexual assault), Leah Griffin (survivor of sexual assault), Mary Joyce Owens (granddaughter of Recy Taylor), Linda Ray (retired U.S. Army Reserves Master Sergeant and survivor of sexual assault).
Puerto Rico aid:
Emmanuel Ortiz-Nazario (relocated to Florida after Hurricane Maria), Claudia Sofía Báez Solá (relocated to Florida after Hurricane Maria), Brenda Irizarry (aided with Puerto Rico recovery), Carmen Yulin Cruz (mayor of San Juan), Omar Miguel Nieves Delgado (relocated to New York after Hurricane Maria)
Other guests include those from local government, law enforcement, and the military (including a transgender Marine veteran, and a transgender soldier in the U.S. Army).
Republican lawmaker guests:
Guests for Republican lawmakers include Bill “the Science Guy”” Nye, who was invited by Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R.-OK.), the nominee to lead NASA), along with members of law enforcement, the military, and local government. There are also several guests who represent economic beneficiaries of the recent tax overhaul.
Tommy Fisher (president and CEO of Fisher Industries), Loong Yong (immigrant business owner), Greg “Ryno” Rynearson (owner of Cops & Doughnuts Clare City Bakery).
The State of the Union address begins at 9:00 p.m. ET and can be watched on television or streamed online. Rep. Joe Kennedy III (R-Mass.) will deliver the Democratic response. The full list of congressional guests can be found here.