After weeks of will-he-or-won’t-he drama due to the government shutdown, President Donald Trump is delivering his State of the Union address tonight.
Congressional Democrats will have to sit quietly throughout the speech. But they’re each allowed to bring a guest, and let’s just say they’re getting creative. Following the lead of colleagues like Senator Kamala Harris, the new class of Dems are inviting immigrants facing deportation, all kinds of activists, and even the woman who memorably confronted a senator in an elevator after Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court hearing.
Simply put, the Democrats are letting their guests do the talking. Here’s who some of the freshman congresswomen and senators will be bringing as their guests.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez invited Ana Maria Achila, the woman who confronted Jeff Flake in an elevator.
The Kavanaugh hearing did not exactly end with a feminist victory: Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed as a Supreme Court judge despite allegations of sexual misconduct, and he got away with behaving like a child on top of all that.
But Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is using her SOTU plus-one to remind Kavanaugh apologists that women will continue holding suspected abusers’ feet to the fire. She’s invited Ana Maria Achila, the woman who confronted Sen. Jeff Flake in an elevator during the Kavanaugh hearings, as her guest.
“I was sexually assaulted and nobody believed me,” Archila memorably said to Flake in a video of the confrontation that went viral. “I didn’t tell anyone, and you’re telling all women they don’t matter […] Look at me and tell me that it doesn’t matter what happened to me, that you will let people like that go into the highest court of the land and tell everyone what they can do to their bodies.”
AOC teased the invite with a tweet reading, “Y’all aren’t ready for NY-14’s #StateOfTheUnion guest!” and a photo of a pin that reads, “Well-behaved women rarely make history.
Ilhan Omar is bringing a woman who’s facing deportation.
Rep. Ilhan Omar, a newly elected Democrat from Minnesota, is bringing Linda Clark. Clark fled Liberia’s Civil War in 2000 before moving to Minnesota, according to The Hill.
Omar specifically name-checked Trump in her tweet announcing her choice of guest.
“My #SOTU guest will be Linda Clark, an immigrant from Liberia who has lived in the U.S. for almost 2 decades,” she tweeted. “Yet Trump is threatening to deport her and thousands of Liberians for no reason other than hate.”
Ayanna Pressley is bringing Estefany Pineda, a Dreamer, as her guest.
Massachusetts’ first black congresswoman has invited a Dreamer from her home state as her guest.
“Estefany,” Pressley tweeted, “I am so honored to have you join me as my guest today. Your advocacy on behalf of your community and on behalf of Dreamers, TPS and Asylum seekers everywhere inspires us.”
Jacky Rosen is bringing a cancer survivor who depends on Obamacare.
The Nevada Senator’s guest, Tanya Flanagan, is a public employee who’s survived three bouts with breast cancer, according to Roll Call. The Nevadan relies on the Affordable Care Act’s safeguards for people with pre-existing conditions.
Kyrsten Sinema is showing support for veterans with her pick.
The freshman Arizona Senator is bringing Air Force veteran Bryan Bouchard, according to AZCentral.
Sinema’s guest was in the Air Force for over 20 years, and sits on Sinema’s Veterans Advisory Council.
Rashida Tlaib is bringing a local activist from her district.
Tlaib is bringing local Michigander Consuela Barber-Lopez to the SOTU.
“Consuela Barber-Lopez is a mother, cancer survivor, & community activist,” she tweeted. “From environmental & economic justice to stopping the deportation of our neighbors, Consuela is a driving force in the #13thDistrictStrong.”
She also tweeted that she and three other congresswomen will be wearing pins that bear the image of Jakelin Caal, the child who died in US custody after crossing the southern border, during the address.
Elissa Slotkin is bringing a sexual assault survivor who testified against Larry Nassar.
Freshman Michigan congresswoman Elissa Slotkin invited Amanda Thomashow, a sexual assault survivor who was one of the many to testify against former Olympic gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar last year, according to The Detroit News.
“I hope that my presence at the State of the Union address sends a message to survivors of sexual assault across our country that they have no reason to be ashamed,” Thomashow has said. “They are not alone. They are strong and powerful, and we are going to change this world. I bring a message of hope.”
Thomashow is also an outspoken critic of Betsy DeVos’ rollback of Title IX protections, having written a letter to the Secretary of Education just before Slotkin invited her to the SOTU.
Madeleine Dean is bringing a Columbine High School shooting survivor.
The new Pennyslvania Representative has invited Jami Amo, who survived the Columbine school shooting in 1999, according to Roll Call. Amo has been a steadfast gun safety activist, and Dean tweeted that both women hope Trump “expresses support for common sense gun laws” in his speech.
Sharice Davids is making a point about health insurance with her pick.
The Kansas freshman is bringing Laura Robeson, the mother of a 7-year-old who has cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and cortical vision impairment, according to Roll Call.
“Hosting her as my guest for the State of the Union is an opportunity to highlight the dangers of allowing insurance companies to discriminate against people based on their medical histories,” Davids said.
Veronica Escobar is bringing a Dreamer from her state.
The Texas representative is bringing Senaida Navar, of El Paso, as her guest, according to the El Paso Times.
“Like Senaida, Dreamers are part of the rich and beautiful fabric of our nation, that is why Congress must work to provide them with permanent protections, and bring relief and certainty to their lives, not use them as political pawns in exchange for a wasteful and ineffective border wall,” she said in a statement.
Sylvia Garcia is bringing a Dreamer whose goal of being in law enforcement has been thwarted by immigration laws.
Garcia is another Texas congresswoman who’s taking a stand in support of DACA recipients. Her guest, Devani Gonzalez, wants to work in law enforcement but can’t because of the uncertainty of her status, according to a statement from Garcia.