What Illinois House, Senate members are doing for Biden’s State of the Union address

Rep, Mary Miller, R-Ill., is boycotting the speech. Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., co-chair of the Congressional Ukraine Caucus, distributed blue and yellow ribbons to members.

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Stephanie Hart, the chef/owner of Brown Sugar Bakery, said a vehicle smashed into her Park Manor store early Sunday.

Stephanie Hart, the chef/owner of Brown Sugar Bakery in Chatham, is the “virtual” guest of Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., for President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address.

Brian Rich/Sun-Times file

Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., the co-chair of the Congressional Ukraine Caucus, distributed blue and yellow ribbons for members to wear to President Joe Biden’s first State of the Union address Tuesday, to show support for the nation brutally attacked by Russia.

State of the Union guests or members wearing ribbons, or clothing with special colors, put a human face on an issue or policy or some important event.

Because of COVID, no member guests will be in the House chamber on Tuesday night when President Biden delivers his first State of the Union address.

The speech Biden delivered before a joint session of Congress on April 28, 2021 — on his 99th day in office — was not an official State of the Union because he was in his first months as president.

Here’s an Illinois rundown:

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other members of his GOP leadership team on Tuesday afternoon highlighted, among others, anti-mask activist Addison George, a 17-year-old junior at Naperville Central High School in Naperville. She was part of an in-person news conference in the Capitol.

After over a year in remote school, in-person classes resumed, two to three days a week, with masks. George said, “We all had our faces covered, all facing forward, not really allowed to talk to our friends — six feet apart, like it was not school. I had everything taken away from me that made high school high school.”

Freshman Rep. Mary Miller, R-Ill., said she was boycotting Biden’s speech because, she said in a statement, “Americans are outraged that Democrats were polling whether or not to lift COVID restrictions and decided to lift the mask mandate right before the State of the Union for Joe Biden’s “political optics.”

“I am boycotting the State of the Union on behalf of the American people who were fired because Joe Biden’s White House strong-armed private employers to institute illegal vaccine mandates.”

Miller is facing a brutal incumbent-on-incumbent GOP primary with Rep. Rodney Davis, who said in a statement before the speech — which he will attend — “The state of our Union is in crisis because of President Joe Biden and one-party, Democrat rule in Washington.”

Here are the virtual guests of other Illinois lawmakers:

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill. — Adjutant general of Illinois and commander of the Illinois National Guard Maj. Gen. Rich Neely, who “is responsible for the critical role the ILNG plays in helping train troops in places like Ukraine and Poland.”

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill. — In keeping with Biden’s plan to spotlight the massive funding the American Rescue Plan and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act has pumped into Illinois projects, Durbin will host Hazel Crest Mayor Vernard Alsberry Jr., Don Finn, business banager, IBEW Local 134 in Chicago; and Christine Morris, RN, site manager at Heartland Health Services in Peoria.

Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill. — Stephanie Hart, owner of Brown Sugar Bakery, 328 E. 75th St. Vice President Kamala Harris visited the bakery in April. Rush helped Hart tap into COVID financial rescue programs that were part of the American Rescue Plan.

Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill. — Dr. Lisa Green, from Family Christian Health Center, with locations in Harvey, Dolton and Lynwood, to throw a spotlight on her “initiative to bring a mobile testing and vaccination site (through a bus) to hard hit areas across the district.”

Rep. Marie Newman, D-Ill. — Laura Maldonado, a licensed child care provider and a member of SEIU Healthcare Illinois & Indiana for the past 13 years.

Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, D-Ill. — Alex Ramon, who several years ago was caught in gang gun crossfire, graduated high school in 2020 and now works is the associate director of operations at Pan de Vida, a food pantry serving Little Village, able to stay open during the pandemic because of the federal PPP program.

Quigley — Maria Solomia Bandriwsky on the board of directors for the Chicago chapter of the American Ukrainian Youth Association, who “has previously done humanitarian service in Ukraine.”

Rep. Sean Casten, D-Ill. — Venya Sharma, a youth climate activist who is a sophomore at Fremd High School in Palatine.

Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill. — Jacob Drews, a senior at Oak Park-River Forest High School who is an intern for Davis, Senate President Don Harmon and State Rep. Camille Lilly.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill. — Skokie resident Sima Quraishi, executive director of the Muslim Women’s Resource Center in Chicago.

Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill. — Pete Olson, president of the Lake County Building and Construction Trades Council, to illustrate benefits from the infrastructure law.

Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Ill. — who is recovering from COVID following a trip to Israel and the West Bank with J-Street, — Lauren Brundage, a teacher from Crystal Lake.

Rep. Cherie Bustos, D-Ill., architect of the recently passed Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Harassment Act, which Biden is expected to soon sign — sexual harassment and assault survivors Lora Henry, Andowah Newton and Tatiana Spottiswoode; and organizer of Googlers for Ending Forced Arbitration, Tanuja Gupta.


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