Illinois lawmakers sending pointed messages with their State of the Union guests
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WASHINGTON – Illinois lawmakers are using their guests, even their very presence and what they wear to President Donald Trump’s second State of the Union address on Tuesday night, to send political messages of their own.
Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., boycotted Trump’s first two speeches to a joint session of Congress, but he will be in the House chamber on Tuesday, his spokesman said, to show support for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the record 106 women in the House.
Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., boycotted in 2018; she is attending this year with a federal furloughed worker to spotlight the negative effect of the shutdown.
Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill, won’t decide about going until Tuesday.
Many of the Democratic women — including Schakowsky, Cheri Bustos, Robin Kelly and Lauren Underwood from Illinois — will be wearing “suffragette white,” sending a message the mostly male GOP congressional contingent can’t come close to matching. Rush will also sport white.
This will be Trump’s first speech with the Democrats in control of the House and with Pelosi, the first and only female House speaker, seated over his shoulder on the dais.
Quick reminders, since we only do this story once a year:
- This will be Trump’s third address to a joint session of Congress. Since a State of the Union is a look back — as well as forward — the first-year speech, right after the inauguration, is not an official State of the Union.
- Using guests at a State of the Union started with President Ronald Reagan in 1982 with hero Lenny Skutnik, the federal worker who jumped into the Potomac River to save a woman after an Air Florida flight crashed. That evolved into a practice of presidents and lawmakers of both parties to invite guests who are heroes, or inspirational, or crime victims, or who symbolize the impact of public policies.
Many Democratic guests have a common theme this year — people who have been hurt by Trump’s immigration policies and by the record 35-day partial government shutdown, triggered by Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion for his southern border wall.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., has invited as his guest Toby Hauck, a furloughed Aurora air traffic controller and Air Force veteran.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., is highlighting the contributions immigrants make with her guest, Lily Wu, a first-generation Chinese-American from Chicago, an Illinois Brotherhood of Electrical Workers apprentice.
Duckworth’s political career is a direct result of Durbin inviting her to attend President George W. Bush’s 2005 State of the Union, when she was an unknown wounded Iraq war vet recovering at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center here.
Here’s the rest of the Illinois rundown, by district:
1st: Rush “will not bring a guest because he can’t find anyone who wants the ticket,” said his communications director Ryan Johnson.
2nd: Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., is inviting Diane Latiker, a constituent from Roseland on the Far South Side who is a founder of Kids of the Block.
3rd: Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., will bring Chicago Police Officer Gino Garcia, an advocate for victims of domestic violence.
4th: Freshman Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, D-Ill., is bringing his wife, Evelyn.
5th: Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., will bring a furloughed IRS employee, Chante Copeland-Smith.
6th: Freshman Rep. Sean Casten, D-Ill., has invited Judie Caribeaux, the executive director of Family Shelter Service in DuPage County and a survivor of domestic abuse.
7th: Davis – no guest.
8th: Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., invited Joe Podlasek who runs the Trickster Art Gallery of native art in Schaumburg.
9th: Schakowsky’s guest is Frank Lagunas, a Chicago Environmental Protection Agency Remedial Project Manager who was furloughed.
10th: Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., is hosting “Dreamer” Ivan Hernandez, 26, of Waukegan whose legal immigrant status is imperiled by Trump’s policies.
11th: Rep. Bill Foster, D-Ill., has invited Marilyn Weisner, the Executive Director of the Aurora Food Pantry in Aurora. She is the widow of the late former Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner, who died last December.
12th: Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill. – no guest.
13th: Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., asked Taylorville Fire Chief Mike Crews to highlight his efforts following the Dec. 1 Taylorville tornado.
14th: Freshman Underwood may well have the youngest guest at the SOTU, Allie Bland, a 7-year-old from Naperville who left uplifting notes at the Family Shelter Service in DuPage.
15th: Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., will let one of his interns guest.
16th: Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., asked a hero, Dixon Police Officer Mark Dallas, who thwarted a high school shooting last May 16.
17th: Bustos’ guest is Tom Mueller a soybean farmer from Edgington, hit by Trump’s trade wars.
18th: No word yet from Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Ill.