Here Are The Guests That Members Of Congress Are Bringing To The State Of The Union

Feb 5, 2019, 5:46 PM | Updated: Jun 7, 2022, 4:02 pm
As members of Congress prepare for the rescheduled State of the Union on Tuesday, several have sele...
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.

(CNN) — 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.”

Jennie Taylor

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
  • Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) — Regina Moller, the executive director of Noank Community Support Services, a non-profit affected by the government shutdown that offers shelters to unaccompanied minors separated from their families at the border
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) — Nicole Smith-Holt, mother of Alec Smith who died from diabetic ketoacidosis because he couldn’t afford his insulin prescription
  • Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) — Border Patrol Rio Grande Valley Sector Chief Manny Padilla
  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) — Lt. Cmdr. Blake Dremann, a transgender service member and the president of a transgender military advocacy organization
  • Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee) — A.B. Culvahouse Jr., US Ambassador to Australia
  • Sen. Ed Markey (D-Massauchusetts) — Varshini Prakash, co-founder of Sunrise, a youth climate change activism organization
  • Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) — Youngstown Mayor and federal BUILD grant recipient Tito Brown
  • Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) — Lila Johnson, a federal contract worker for general cleaning services at the Department of Agriculture
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) — Massachusetts labor leader Sajid Shahriar, a Department of Housing and Urban Development employee who was furloughed during the shutdown
  • Sen. Rick Scott (R-Florida) — Andy Pollack, father of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting victim Meadow Pollack
  • Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) — human trafficking survivor and Refugee Congress delegate Valdir Solera
  • Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) — National Air Traffic Controllers Association President Paul Rinaldi
  • Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) — Baltimore County Executive John Olszewski Jr., a former state delegate
  • Sen. David Perdue (R-Georgia) — Kai Hartman, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Georgia’s 2018 Youth of the Year
  • Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania) — Monica Hughes, an Army reservist and Pittsburgh International Airport TSA officer who worked without pay during the shutdown
  • Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-New Hampshire) — Donna Beckman, a woman facing a $1,648 bill for a visit to an emergency room in her network
  • Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) — Gerry Wright, an advocate for Vietnam War veterans who were exposed to toxins
  • Sen. Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) — Edward Douglas, a former prisoner from Chicago who was serving a life sentence for selling crack cocaine in 2003 until being released last month under the First Step Act
  • Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania) — John Malloy, CEO of pipe connector manufacturer Victaulic and a friend of Toomey’s
  • Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-Nevada) — Tanya Flanagan, a three-time cancer survivor and a Clark County public information administrator
  • Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) — retired educator and multiple sclerosis patient Diane Whitcraft
  • Sen. John Kennedy (R-Louisiana) — janitor Justina Pettway
  • Sen. Martha McSally (R-Arizona) — Isaiah Acosta, a rapper born without a lower jaw and an advocate for Phoenix Children’s Hospital and Children’s Miracle Networks Hospitals

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
  • Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Nebraska) — Nobel Peace Prize winner Nadia Murad, a Yazidi human rights activist and survivor of sexual slavery at the hands of ISIS in Iraq
  • Rep. Jackie Speier (D-California) — Air Force Staff Sgt. Logan Ireland, who identifies as transgender, and who served in Afghanistan
  • Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) — Dave Green, the president of UAW Local 1112, which represents GM workers at the Lordstown plant that will close this year
  • Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) — East Liverpool K-9 Officer Chris Green who accidentally overdosed on Fentanyl after the powder ended up on his shirt from a drug arrest
  • Rep. Grace Meng (D-New York) — 22-year-old Dreamer and Rhodes Scholar Jin Park
  • Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-Texas) — Rhonda Hart, the mother of Santa Fe High School shooting victim Kimberly Vaughn
  • Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) — National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd
  • Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-California) — Erik Talkin, the head of a Santa Barbara County food bank that distributed food to 458 families of furloughed federal workers during the government shutdown
  • Rep. Katie Porter (D-California) — Helen Nguyen, wife of Michael Nguyen, a native Californian who has been detained in Vietnam for nearly seven months
  • Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Illinois) — Tom Mueller, an Illinois soybean farmer whose business has been negatively affected by the ongoing trade war with China
  • Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) — Ana Maria Archila, one of two women who confronted former Sen. Jeff Flake in a Capitol elevator last year over his support for then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Archila is also the co-executive director of an organization that promotes progressive politics.
  • Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) — Linda Clark, a Minnesota resident and Liberian immigrant facing deportation
  • Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-New York) — Yeni Gonzalez Garcia, a Guatemalan immigrant who was separated from her three children at the Arizona border last year
  • Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Florida) — Manny Oliver, father of Joaquin Oliver, a victim of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting
  • Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Georgia) — Jeff Binkley, father of Maura Binkley, a victim of the Tallahassee yoga studio shooting last year
  • Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) — former Department of Interior official Joel Clement
  • Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Oregon) — student gun violence prevention advocate Alexandria Goddard
  • Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas) — DACA recipient and substitute teacher Devani Nallely Gonzalez Barboza
  • Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colorado) — DACA recipient and kindergarten teacher Kennya Lilibeth Sanchez Chavez
  • Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) — DACA recipient and Texas A&M University in College Station mechanical engineering student Carlos Hernandez
  • Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Georgia) — DACA recipient and Offtharecord.com founder Samantha Ramirez Herrera
  • Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) — DACA recipient and University of Texas at El Paso professor Senaida Navar
  • Rep. Lou Correa (D-California) — paralegal and former DACA recipient Marco Villada
  • Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-New York) — TPS recipient and LaGuardia Airport wheelchair attendant Gerald Michaud
  • Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-New Mexico) — Awn Sian Mung, a former refugee from Myanmar and lead case manager at refugee support non-profit Lutheran Family Services Rocky Mountains
  • Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-California) — African asylum seeker and mental health service coordinator Akelo Zukuka
  • Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-New York) — Yeni Gonzalez, a Guatemalan mother separated from her three children at the southern border for 45 days
  • Rep. Judy Chu (D-California) — addiction advocate and former opioid addict Ryan Hampton
  • Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Virginia) — Amer Al-Mudallal, an Environmental Protection Agency employee who was furloughed during the shutdown
  • Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minnesota) — cattle farmer and agriculture advocate Katie Brenny
  • Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Illinois) — Taylorville Fire Chief Mike Crews, who coordinated emergency notifications and disaster recovery when a tornado hit the town last year
  • Rep. Anthony Delgado (D-New York) — environmental advocate Michael Hickey
  • Rep. Val Demings (D-Florida) — Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings and Ralph Velez, an essential federal employee who worked at Orlando International Airport without pay throughout the shutdown
  • Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pennsylvania) — Justin Cangro, a 16-year old who lost his older brother Jared to a drug overdose in 2016
  • Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Virginia) — Linda McCray, a Washington Air Route Traffic Control Center employee who was furloughed during the shutdown
  • Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colorado) — Mary Majok, a Sudanese refugee whose 21-year-old son Potros was killed in March by gun violence
  • Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Michigan) — sexual assault survivor advocate Amanda Thomashow, a former Michigan State University student who brought the first Title IX sexual harassment complaint against Larry Nassar in 2014
  • Rep. Doris Matsui (D-California) — DACA recipient and California State University, Sacramento adjunct professor Jesus Limon Guzman
  • Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa) — Jeff Chapman, the Battalion Chief of the Clinton Fire Department
  • Rep. Jim Himes (D-Connecticut) — high school junior Lane Murdock, who organized the anti-gun violence National School Walkout in April
  • Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tennessee) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee
  • Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington) — Lisa J. Graumlich, climate scientist and dean of the College of the Environment at the University of Washington
  • Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Michigan) — local clean water advocate Cathy Wusterbarth
  • Rep. Chris Pappas (D-New Hampshire) — Tavion Dignard, a transgender Navy veteran
  • Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wisconsin) — Aissa Olivarez, staff attorney for the Community Immigration Law Center
  • Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) — Carlos Trujillo, US Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States
  • Rep. Joe Neguse (D-Colorado) — Elias, a DACA recipient and chemical, biological and biomedical engineering student at Colorado State University
  • Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-New York) — Sydney Ireland, a high school student who joined the Boy Scout Troops and is now lobbying to officially become an Eagle Scout
  • Rep. Bill Foster (D-Illinois) — Marilyn Weisner, the former executive director of the Aurora Food Pantry in Illinois
  • Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Maryland) — Baltimore City Councilman Kristerfer Burnett
  • Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-South Carolina) — Republican Folly Beach Mayor Tim Goodwin
  • Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) — Syrian Kurdish leader and co-president of the Syrian Democratic Council Ilham Ahmed
  • Rep. Dwight Evans (D-Pennsylvania) — Alana Lewis, an organizer with the American Federation of Government Employees
  • Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Florida) — Uma Menon, a 15-year-old student and the winner of Murphy’s State of the Union essay contest
  • Rep. Norma Torres (D-California) — Joe Rodgers, a Federal Aviation Administration engineer technician at Ontario International Airport who was furloughed during the shutdown
  • Rep. David Trone (D-Maryland) — Kevin Simmers, a former narcotics detective who founded a women’s sober living home with his wife after losing their daughter to a drug overdose in 2015
  • Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Pennsylvania) — gun safety activist and Columbine shooting survivor Jami Amo
  • Rep. Kim Schrier (D-Washinton) — pre-existing condition patient advocate and stage IIIC colon cancer patient Jenell Payne Tamaela
  • Rep. Mike Levin (D-California) — Lucero Sanchez, a “Dreamer” and University of California-San Diego environmental science student
  • Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Michigan) — Jean Buller, a recently retired middle school science teacher
  • Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pennsylvania) — Michelle Roberson, whose daughter Bianca was fatally shot in a road rage incident in 2017
  • Rep. Ben McAdams (D-Utah) — his brother-in-law and Trump voter, Sam
  • Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pennsylvania) — health food company owner Murat Guzel
  • Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-New Jersey) — Hing Foo Lee, the brother of recently deceased patient’s advocate John Lee
  • Rep. Lori Trahan (D-Massachusetts) — police officer Ivan Soto, who worked through the September Merrimack Valley gas explosions despite his own house burning down
  • Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Michigan) — cyberbullying prevention advocate and college student Haley Petrowski
  • Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pennsylvania) — gun violence prevention advocates Malcolm Yates and Beverly Wright
  • Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-New York) — Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart
  • Rep. Susan Davis (D-California) — Eric Schlumpf, a budget officer for the Cleveland National Forest who was furloughed during the shutdown

This story has been updated and will continue to update as CNN receives additional information.

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Here Are The Guests That Members Of Congress Are Bringing To The State Of The Union