Inviting guests to a big event can be a delicate matter—nobody wants to be left off the list—and it’s even tricker for an evening that involves the storied history of the State of the Union address. Invitations to the annual event often take on the tone of a political statement.
President Trump will deliver his second State of the Union address at 9 p.m. Eastern Time Tuesday night. Trump will address a Congress that is deeply divided in part because of a 35-day government shutdown that followed Trump’s insistence that Congress fund a wall he wants to build along the southern U.S. border with Mexico.
Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have invited select victims of violence, including a sixth-grader from Wilmington, Del., who was bullied at school because his last name was Trump and family members of an elderly couple from Reno, allegedly killed by an undocumented immigrant.
Members of Congress are also able to invite one guest to the State of the Union address, whether that be a family member or an individual representative of the lawmaker’s platform. Axios published a guest list of people invited by Democrats. Some of those elected officials have already cast their hats into the 2020 Presidential-election ring.
Sen. Kamala Harris of California invited Trisha Pesiri-Dybvik, a California air-traffic controller who lost her home during the devastating Thomas Fire in 2017, only to be furloughed during the recent government shutdown.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts invited Sajid Shahriar, a Massachusetts labor leader who, as an employee of the federal housing department, was also furloughed during the record-long government shutdown during late December and most of January.
Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey invited Edward Douglas, who was recently released under the First Step Act after receiving a life sentence in 2003 for selling 140 grams of cocaine.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York invited Lt. Cmdr. Blake Dremann, whom she described on Twitter as “the first openly transgender servicemember to be promoted in our military’s history.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, also of New York, invited Ana Maria Archila, who confronted former Sen. Jeff Flake in an elevator ahead of the confirmation vote on now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
Ed Markey of Masssachusetts, invited Varshini Prakash, the executive director and co-founder of the Sunrise Movement, an organization in support of the Green New Deal.
And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who will sit just behind Trump during his address, invited multiple guests, including Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime died during the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School a year ago; active-duty transgender service members, and José Andrés, the celebrity chef who has aided causes ranging from hurricane relief in Puerto Rico to the guy who couldn’t pronounce “flamenco” on Wheel of Fortune.