With President Trump now being allowed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to present his State of the Union address tomorrow after finally ending the government shutdown, members of Congress are announcing who they will bring as guests to the event.
Legislators have long used their single guest ticket to the once prestigious speech to make political points and this year is no exception. Among the legislators who have already announced their guests is Representative Eric Swalwell (D-CA) who has invited Parkland Florida shooting survivor Cameron Kasky to the House chambers for the speech.
According to a list of invitees on Roll Call, many Democrats are inviting people associated with the congressional battle over immigration including Dreamers, people here on TPS visas after disasters in their home countries, and people who have had family members deported by ICE. Other Democrats are bringing along people who are involved in relief for Puerto Rico, or who illustrate healthcare issues, or who have been victims of sexual assault or harassment.
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Invitees of Republican legislators tend to predictably fall into the categories of military, law enforcement, local government, and beneficiaries of the GOP’s tax largesse for the ultra-wealthy.
New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made a splash on Twitter with her announcement of to whom she’s giving her invite to the State of the Union.
She followed up her initial announcement with a second tweet a couple of hours later that included video from the incident that catapulted her constituent Ana Maria Archila into public consciousness.
This @AnaMariaArchil2, the NY-14 shero that will be accompanying me to the State of the Union tomorrow.
She wasn’t planning on leaping into that elevator ahead of the Kavanaugh vote, but after hearing the stories of survivors across the country, she went in.
A defining moment. https://t.co/J4J8xCii4n
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) February 4, 2019
Archila’s brave appeal in an act of direct democracy forced the Senate Judiciary Committee to at least delay the confirmation of then Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in order to conduct what ultimately turned out to be a sham investigation into the allegations of sexual assault against him.
While the unfortunate math of the Senate membership meant that Kavanaugh was eventually confirmed despite Archila’s intervention with Senator Flake, the legitimacy of the Supreme Court Justice’s appointment will be forever in question as a result of her efforts.
While an invitation to the State of the Union would normally be a prestigious feather in the cap of anyone lucky enough to snag one, the fact that the invitees will have to sit through an entire speech by President Trump — likely to be as full of lies as his everyday Twitter propaganda feed — means that they are actually making a sacrifice of their valuable time in order to act as public symbols of the causes they represent.
The invitation to Archila was a bold move from Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, a congresswoman with so much conviction in her deeply-held principles that she’s not afraid of confrontation and ruffled feathers. She should be commended for her choice.
Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.