Three Democratic senators who also are running for the White House are using their invited guests to tonight’s State of the Union address to spotlight differences with President Trump.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who formally declares her candidacy on Saturday, invited Sajid Shahriar, a labor leader and Department Housing and Urban Development staffer who was recently furloughed from his job during the 35-day partial shutdown of the federal government.
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Democrats have blamed Trump for the shutdown, which was sparked over an impasse between the president and congressional Democrats over funding for construction of Trump’s long-promised wall along the border with Mexico.
“It’s time to send a message to President Trump and Senate Republicans: federal and contract workers are the backbone of our economy and their livelihoods should never be used as pawns in Republican political games,” Warren said in a statement.
Sen. Kamala Harris of California, who declared her candidacy for president last month, is bringing a woman who lost her home in last year’s raging wildfires that devastated parts of the Golden State.
Harris’ guest, Trisha Pesiri-Dybvik, and her husband both work for air traffic control and were also furloughed during the government shutdown.
“Trisha’s story is just one of many stories I heard during the shutdown of Americans whose lives were upended and who faced those difficult days with strength and resilience,” Harris said in a statement.
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And Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who’s launched a presidential exploratory committee, is bringing a decorated transgender Navy member to protest the president’s ban on transgender military service, which was greenlighted by the Supreme Court.
Her guest, Blake Dremann, a transgender Navy lieutenant commander, has been deployed 11 times. The invitation comes after the Supreme Court allowed Trump’s ban on transgender military service to go into effect.
“Transgender service members like Lieutenant Commander Dremann make extraordinary sacrifices every day to defend our freedom and our most sacred values, and President Trump’s decision to ban them from military service is cruel and undermines our military readiness,” she said in a statement.