Who Is Attending the State of the Union as an Official Guest?
Both the president and lawmakers invite guests to the State of the Union address, usually to make a statement on an issue they wish to highlight. Here are some notable officials and the guests they plan to bring to the address.
President Donald Trump
The president has invited Judah Samet, who survived the Holocaust and the mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh in October 2018 that killed 11 people, as well as Timothy Matson, a member of the Pittsburgh Police Department SWAT team, which responded to the shooting. Trump has invited several other people, including family members of Gerald and Sharon David, a Nevada couple who were killed in their home in January by an illegal immigrant; Matthew Charles, who was sentenced in 1996 to 35 years in prison for selling crack cocaine, among other charges, and was released in January as a result of Trump's prison reforms; and Elvin Hernandez, a special agent with the Trafficking in Persons Unit of the Department of Homeland Security’s Homeland Security Investigations division.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
The Democratic minority leader is bringing Elizabeth Guzman, the Virginia delegate who will deliver the Spanish response to the State of the Union address. Pelosi has also invited Melody Klingenfuss, who was brought illegally to the United States a child, also known as a “Dreamer.”
Senator Rick Scott
Republican Scott’s guest for the State of the Union address is Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was one of 17 people killed in the 2018 Parkland, Florida, school shooting. Scott, who was the governor of Florida when the shooting took place, appointed Pollack to Florida's education board. However, Scott’s successor, Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, rescinded that appointment along with dozens of others made by Scott.
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Democrat Ocasio-Cortez is taking Ana Maria Archila, a woman who cornered former Senator Jeff Flake on live television to protest his support for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Archila, who lives in Ocasio-Cortez’s New York district, confronted Flake in a Senate elevator along with another woman last September and yelled at him over his support of Kavanaugh, who was accused of sexual assault. The women described themselves as survivors of sexual assault and asked Flake to reconsider his support of Kavanaugh, a moment that was replayed throughout the media. Kavanaugh denied the accusation and was later confirmed to the high court.
Representative Jeff Fortenberry
Republican Fortenberry, from Nebraska, has invited Nadia Murad, an Iraqi Yazidi human rights activist who escaped captivity by the Islamic State and went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
Representative Jimmy Gomez
Democrat Gomez, from California, is bringing Sandra Diaz, a formerly undocumented immigrant who worked as a housekeeper from 2010-2013 at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. Diaz is from Costa Rica and has since become a legal U.S. resident. Democratic Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey has invited Victorina Morales, another undocumented worker who previously worked at the same Trump property. Morales was fired from working as a maid in the golf club after coming forward to the media about being undocumented.
Senator Thom Tillis
Republican Tillis, from North Carolina, will attend the State of the Union with evangelical pastor Andrew Brunson, who was released from a Turkish prison last year. The detention of Brunson, on charges of espionage in 2016, strained U.S.-Turkey relations. The Trump administration had strongly pressed Turkey for his release.
Representative Chris Pappas
Democrat Pappas, from New Hampshire, is one of at least four members of Congress who is bringing a transgender service member or veteran to the address. Pappas, an openly gay congressman, has invited Tavion Dignard, who served in the U.S. Navy from 1998-2002. The Trump administration has banned most openly transgender men and women from serving in the military, and the Supreme Court ruled last month the government could carry out the policy while legal challenges to it play out in the court system.