Tuesday

State of the Union Speech Guests Showcase Trump's Key Policies

U.S. President Donald Trump is following a long presidential tradition for his State of the Union address Tuesday, inviting guests to showcase policies most important to him.


Fifteen guests will sit alongside first lady Melania Trump in the gallery of the House of Representatives chamber as Trump delivers his first State of the Union address a year into his presidency.


Their guests include Corey Adams, an Ohio welder who the White House says plans to take money saved from the president’s tax-cut package and set it aside to help finance his two daughters’ education.


His employers will be there as well, Steve Staub and Sandy Keplinger, sibling founders of a manufacturing company who say they were able to grow their business and hand their employees a larger holiday bonus because of the tax overhaul.


Two couples, Elizabeth Alvarado and Robert Mickens, along with Evelyn Rodriguez and Freddy Cuevas, both parents of girls killed by MS-13 gang members, are guests as well, highlighting Trump’s push to keep illegal immigrants bent on committing horrific crimes out of the country.


Another guest is C.J. Martinez , a supervisory special agent for the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s homeland security investigations unit, whose work led to the arrests of more than 100 MS-13 gang members.


The Trumps also invited Ryan Holets, a New Mexico police officer who adopted a baby from parents addicted to opioids, a major drug problem in the U.S.


The military


Guests linked to the U.S. military include Matthew Bradford, a Marine Corps veteran who stepped on an IED in Iraq in 2007, costing him both of his legs and his eyesight. He was the first blind, double-amputee to re-enlist in the Marines.


Another guest is Army staff sergeant Justin Peck, who aided a team member wounded in November by an IED and saved his life. Preston Sharp, creator of the Flag and Flower challenge, will be there. His group honors deceased veterans at military cemeteries by placing an American flag and a red carnation on their grave sites.


Natural disasters


Trump and his wife also invited three guests who played key roles in their communities last year in coping with unprecedented natural disasters in the U.S.


Jon Bridgers was founder of the Cajun Navy, a nonprofit group that led rescue efforts in the southern part of the country, especially during the flooding in Houston that resulted from Hurricane Harvey.


David Dahlberg is a fire prevention technician who saved 62 people, including children and staff members, when a Southern California wildfire erupted. Ashlee Leppert is a Coast Guard aviation electronics technician who engaged in rescue efforts during a string of hurricanes.


Even as Trump invited guests to highlight his tax legislation and prominent issues important to his political fortunes, he already is focusing on his 2020 re-election effort. His campaign is live-streaming his address and promised anyone willing to donate at least $35 that their name will be displayed on screen as a donor while Trump is speaking.


Some Republican lawmakers have invited guests supporting Trump policies, while numerous Democratic lawmakers gave speech tickets to guests showing their opposition to Trump.


Several Democrats have invited undocumented immigrants who years ago were brought illegally to the U.S. by their parents. Their right to stay in the United States, or be returned to their native countries, is at the heart of contentious negotiations between lawmakers and the White House after Trump last year ended a program protecting them against deportation.He gave Congress until March 5 to weigh in on the issue.


One Democrat, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell of Michigan, invited as her guest Cindy Garcia, whose husband, Jorge Garcia, was recently deported to Mexico by the Trump administration after living in the U.S. for 30 years.


Congressman Joe Kennedy of Massachusetts, who is giving a Democratic rebuttal speech after Trump finishes his address, invited a transgender soldier, Patricia King, to focus on Trump’s plan to ban transgender people from serving in the military.


Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York invited San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, a sharp critic of the Trump administration’s response to Hurricane Maria’s devastation of Puerto Rico, the Caribbean island that is a U.S. territory.