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The SOTU guest list: Who are lawmakers bringing?

Did John Bolton’s invite get lost?

Former Washington National Jayson Werth was a guest of Rep. Rodney Davis at President Donald Trump's State of the Union address in 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Former Washington National Jayson Werth was a guest of Rep. Rodney Davis at President Donald Trump's State of the Union address in 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

President Donald Trump is on deck to deliver his third State of the Union, and what he’ll say about impeachment is the big question of the night.

Whether he lets fly with the “i”-word or avoids it, congressional Democrats are trying to move on — or at least that’s what they’re signaling with the guests they’ve invited.

Lawmakers can bring one guest each, and sometimes the list is highly topical, like when Democrats invited migrant mothers as debate raged over the Trump administration’s family separation policy at the border in 2019. 

This doesn’t seem to be one of those years. Lawmakers are still trying to make a point — just not about the topic that has consumed Washington for two months, namely impeachment.

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No one invited John Bolton (that we know of). Instead, members of Congress are trying to steer the conversation back to kitchen table issues, like health care and the economy.

Here’s a sampling of the guest list so far:

Health care

Chris Burrows, retired Flint school teacher and diabetic concerned over rising cost of prescription drugs and repeal of the 2010 health care law — Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich.

Michelle Freedman, caretaker of a child with Type 1 diabetes — Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore, who is once again boycotting the speech, saying in a press release, “I have chosen not to dignify Trump’s parade of lies about health care”

Sarah Stark, Type 1 diabetic and fellow resident of Holly, Michigan — Rep. Elissa Slotkin, D-Mich.

Bakari Burns, CEO of Health Care Center for the Homeless, a nonprofit organization that provides primary medical, dental and vision care and counseling at Orange Blossom Family Health in Orlando, Florida — Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla.

Jillian Hudspeth, president and CEO of New Jersey Primary Care Association, which oversees New Jersey’s Federally Qualified Health Centers — Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J.

Jenna Tosh, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood California Central Coast — Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Calif.

Carrigan Nelson, rare bone cancer survivor — Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I.

Kim Cesarek, breast cancer patient — Rep. Angie Craig, D-Minn.

Serena Cruz, executive director of the Virginia Garcia Memorial Foundation, named after the daughter of migrant farm workers who died after a cut on her foot became infected — Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore.

Keith Marquis, former methamphetamine user who shares stories of overcoming addiction with children of rural communities — Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo.


Jeff Lunde, mayor behind the push for a pathway to citizenship for Brooklyn Park’s Liberian community — Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn.

María Rocha, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient — Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas

Joseph Paul Jr., a reentry professional working with ex-offenders, high-risk adults, and various community service and faith-based organizations in Los Angeles — Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif.

Ismail Alghazali, Yemeni-American citizen separated from his wife and two young children by the Trump administration’s Muslim ban — Rep. Judy Chu, D-Calif.

Mary Ann Mendoza, an advocate for the “Angel Family” community and enforcing immigration laws — Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz.

Habon Abdulle, executive director of the Women Organizing Women Network, a nonprofit aimed at first- and second-generation women immigrants — Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn.

Law enforcement

Hailey Seals, daughter of fallen Jersey City Detective Joe Seals, who was shot and killed in December by two armed anti-Semitic extremists — Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-N.J.

Rob Serra, retired New York City firefighter who served on 9/11 and an advocate for permanent authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act — Rep. Max Rose, D-N.Y.

Eric Adams, police officer in Laconia, New Hampshire, who works on drug addiction and recovery issues — Rep. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H.


Andrea Chamblee, activist and widow of John McNamara, one of the Capital Gazette journalists killed in Annapolis in 2018 — Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.

Veterans and military

Ernie Bergman, president of the Vietnam Veterans of America Marin County Chapter — Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif.

Gil Hernandez, advocate with the Veterans of Foreign Wars — Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev.

Michele LaMontagne, commander of the Air National Guard at KAFB — Rep. Deb Haaland, D-N.M.

Sandy Terwiske, whose son, Lance Corporal Alec Terwiske, was killed in action by an IED while serving in Afghanistan in 2012 — Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind.

Sexual assault

Courtney Wild, molested by Jeffrey Epstein and inspiration for a victim’s rights bill — Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif.


Abdul Quddus Chaudhry, security officer at LaGuardia Airport and member of the 32BJ SEIU union — Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y.

Chris Wiers, president of Bath Iron Works’ Local S6 union — Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine


Jennifer Lewis, third-generation dairy farmer in Michigan and advocate for the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA — Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Mich.

Will Cabe, a fourth-generation farmer — Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., who highlighted the ramifications of the USMCA for the poultry industry

Foreign policy

Hatice Cengiz, fiancée of slain Saudi Arabian author Jamal Khashoggi — Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, D-Va.


John Ridley, creator of the Emmy-winning “American Crime” and Academy Award winner in screenwriting for “12 Years a Slave” — Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wis.

Have more SOTU guests? Send them to


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