After dueling with Speaker Nancy Pelosi over an invitation to address Congress amid the recent government shutdown, President Donald Trump will deliver his State of the Union address Tuesday night, his first to a divided Congress and the second of his presidency.
Now that the government is back open, some of the Illinois Democrats in Congress have invited guests they’re hoping will keep the effects of the shutdown front-and-center.
Sen. Dick Durbin invited Toby Hauck, an air traffic controller in Aurora and a veteran of the Air Force, whose story Durbin told on the Senate floor during the recent government shutdown.
Air traffic controllers were given partial credit for bringing about an end to the 35-day shutdown when scores of workers didn’t show up for work after not being paid for more than a month. Several of the nation’s busiest airports faced massive delays as a result.
"Federal employees – like Toby – never deserved to be punished and forced to work without pay while Washington squabbled over a political disagreement," Durbin said in a statement. "Their stories and pleas to reopen the government in the name of public safety stopped this President from inflicting more damage to our country."
Rep. Jan Schakowsky also invited a federal worker impacted by the shutdown: Environmental Protection Agency Project Manager Frank Lagunas. Lagunas, also an Air Force veteran, has served on emergency deployments to Flint, Michigan, during the water crisis and to Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria and was furloughed during the recent shutdown.
"I want to show President Trump how his hostage-taking of American workers has a continuing impact on the lives of every day citizens, especially those who are dedicated to the public good," Schakowsky said in a statement.
Rep. Mike Quigley invited a federal worker who was furloughed during the shutdown: IRS employee Chante Copeland-Smith.
Freshman Rep. Sean Casten invited Judie Caribeaux, the executive director of the Family Shelter Service in Naperville, a nonprofit that aids victims of domestic abuse. The shelter was forced to leave counseling positions vacant after federal money stopped flowing during the shutdown.
Illinois’ other freshman, Rep. Lauren Underwood, is bringing 7-year-old Allie Bland, who Underwood noticed leaving handwritten notes and drawings for domestic violence survivors at a local shelter.
"I was visiting a domestic violence shelter that was affected by the government shutdown when I spotted one of her notes and was deeply touched – it was such a good reminder that our country is a better place when we all are doing our part to spread kindness and make positive change in our communities," Underwood said in a statement.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth went a different route when she invited Lily Wu, a first-generation American and a third-year apprentice electrician with IBEW Local 134, a male-dominated trade union.
Duckworth said she invited Wu because of her support for community investment, infrastructure spending and apprenticeship programs, as well as her support for immigrants.
"In the face of the President’s attacks on immigrants, I also believe it is important to send a message about the valuable contributions immigrant families make to our country,” Duckworth said in a statement.
Illinois’ Republican delegation opted to invite first responders.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger invited Officer Mark Dallas of the Dixon Police Department who was hailed as a hero by Vice President Mike Pence for thwarting a school shooting at Dixon High School. Dallas chased the gunman out of the school and wounded him after they exchanged gunfire and no one else was injured.
Rep. Rodney Davis invited another first responder – Taylorville Fire Chief Mike Crews. Crews was "instrumental" in the response to an EF-3 tornado that touched down on Dec. 1, 2018.
"Chief Crews undoubtedly saved lives that day. When he learned of the weather and the storm approaching our hometown, he made all the right decisions that resulted in zero fatalities and fewer injuries than what would have happened otherwise," Davis said in a statement.
Rep. Jesus "Chuy" Garcia opted not to make a political statement with his guest of honor – his wife.
Rep. Darin LaHood’s office could not say who his guest would be.
The president and First Lady Melania Trump invited 13 guests to the address. Among them are the family of two people murdered by an undocumented immigrant last month, a survivor of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting and a 6th-grader from Delaware who has been bullied because his last name is Trump (no relation to the president).