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By Courtney Buble
WASHINGTON — Members of Congress who’d like to take President Donald Trump’s place in 2021 planned to deliver messages of their own Tuesday at his second State of the Union with the string of guests they invited to hear the address live at the Capitol.
Some guests were invited to highlight the recent government shutdown over Trump’s border wall request, which resulted in the speech’s delay from its initial January date. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., planned to bring air-traffic controller Trisha Pesiri-Dybvik, one of the 800,000 federal workers furloughed last month and a victim of the California wildfires. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., was bringing Sajid Shahriar, a labor leader who organized rallies last month calling for the government to re-open.
Other guests of potential Trump rivals were to include those currently affected by policies advocated — or opposed — by the president. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. — who plans to introduce legislation pushing back on Trump’s ban on transgender service members — announced she is bringing Navy Lieutenant Commander Blake Dremann, a decorated transgender service member who was deployed 11 times and received the Navy’s highest logistics award.
And potential candidate Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., invited Cameron Kasky, survivor of the Parkland shooting-turned-student activist who co-founded Never Again MSD, a gun control advocacy organization.
Potential 2020 candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., was to bring a mother whose son passed away because he couldn’t afford his insulin, writing on Twitter that the two are “Working together to make sure that never happens to another family.”
Meanwhile, at least one 2020 contender planned to bring a guest the president would likely approve of: Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., invited Edward Douglas, a former prisoner from Chicago who was eligible for release from his lifetime sentence after Trump signed into law the First Step Act, a criminal justice reform measure.