After a lengthy round of will-they/won’t-they invite President Donald Trump to read his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress next week, it turns out they will.
And per tradition, Connecticut’s congressional delegation is sending a message with their invited guests.
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy has invited Regina Moller, the executive director of Noank Community Support Services. Unsure about the connection? NCSS is a Groton nonprofit social services agency that offers shelter to unaccompanied minors who have been separated from their families while crossing into the United States. The organization is partially funded by a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development program that was suspended under the recent government shutdown.
That’s a two-for-one jab at the president.
“Regina and her team at Noank Community Support Services are heroes,” Murphy said in a statement. “I’m so glad she is joining me at the State of the Union to shed light on how President Trump’s border policies are traumatizing a generation of children and how the recent government shutdown affected Connecticut. Regina’s organization takes care of child refugees, kids who are feeling the violence and trauma of places like Ecuador and Guatemala and see the United States as a country that can save their lives. These kids aren’t threats to our security, they are our future leaders.”
Moller said the trickle-down effect of the shutdown put the homeless shelter for young adults at risk of closing.
“The young men and women have experienced much trauma already in their lives, and depend on the stable provision of services,” she said. “Changes to rules in the Department of Homeland Security have led to fewer sponsors willing to step forward out of fear.”
There’s no doubt the president will talk about border security in his address, which comes on the heels of a 35-day government shutdown that revolved entirely around Trump’s insistence on funding for a border wall.
The president’s address begins at 9 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday and is expected to last about one hour. The Democratic Response will be given by Stacey Abrams, who ran a contentious race to be governor of Georgia last year.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal invited Gerry Wright, an advocate for Vietnam veterans who were exposed to toxic chemicals.
Wright, who served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, was exposed to the herbicide Agent Orange — leaving him with permanent medical conditions. He has been a key advocate for the Agent Orange Exposure Fairness Act, a bill introduced by Blumenthal in the Senate and Rep. Joe Courtney, also of Connecticut, in the House to remove barriers for veterans seeking disability compensation for Agent Orange exposure.
A spokesman for Courtney did not return a request for comment on Courtney’s guest for the State of the Union. Last year, Courtney brought Navy officer, Evan Karlick, who was assigned to Courtney’s office as a Navy fellow for 2018, to assist with the congressman’s duties on the Armed Services panel.
U.S. Rep. Jim Himes has invited Lane Murdock, the junior at Ridgefield High School who organized the National School Walkout last year after the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting left 17 dead.
Himes, who has invited gun-safety advocates in the past and has slammed Congress for inaction on gun legislation, said he chose to bring Murdock, as the Democratic-led House of Representatives is putting forth legislation to curb gun deaths.
In an unusual move, Rep. John Larson gave his ticket away to a Republican Congressman who asked for it. Larson’s spokesman did not say who asked for the ticket or who the Republican’s guest would be.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro did not return a request for comment on her invitee for the 2019 address, but in 2018 she invited Dr. Suzanne Lagarde, CEO of the Fair Haven Community Health Care, to highlight the appropriations battles in Congress over community health care funding.
Jahana Hayes, the newly elected 5th District representative did not return a request for comment on who her first invited guest to the State of the Union would be.