A Midway International Airport worker. A doctor who assists women with abortions. The head of a service for homeless individuals.
All three are among guests invited by members of Illinois’ congressional delegation to attend President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address tonight.
With Republicans controlling the House and Democrats in charge of the Senate, it’s expected to be a raucous, partisan night, but U.S. Rep. Bill Foster chose a nonpolitical guest: Kane County Health Department Executive Director Michael Isaacson.
Isaacson represents “all of the heroes of the medical community,” the Naperville Democrat said. “We lost more than a million lives to COVID-19 — but a lot more than a million Americans were saved by the actions of the medical responders.”
The honor is “a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Isaacson said Monday from Washington. “When the congressman’s office reached out to me, I was absolutely thrilled.
“It’s really exciting to be here in person, to be able to talk to people directly about the things that are impacting the health of our communities back home.”
Sen. Tammy Duckworth met her guest, Dr. Erin King, last year while in Metro East touring the Hope Clinic, which provides abortion services.
“It’s taken the support, resources and empathy of places like Hope Clinic and people like Dr. Erin King to ensure women everywhere have access to reproductive health services,” the Hoffman Estates Democrat said in a statement.
King, Hope’s executive director, said she was honored and felt Duckworth’s invitation was also a statement about the importance of abortion access.
“About half the country right now is living in what have been termed restrictive and very restrictive states where, in some cases, abortion isn’t even available at all,” King said. The clinic’s clients have doubled since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, and over 80% of them come from outside Illinois.
Sen. Dick Durbin, co-chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, invited U.S. Ambulances for Ukraine founder Chris Manson, a Peoria health care executive.
Manson helped bring 28 ambulances and a fire engine to the war-torn country. “He represents the best of humanity and is a symbol of hope during a brutal war,” Durbin, a Springfield Democrat, said in a statement.
U.S. Rep. Sean Casten selected April Redzic, the CEO of DuPagePads, which provides emergency shelter and support to clients to reduce homelessness.
“No Illinoisan should be unhoused, and I’m inspired by the work done by DuPagePads under the leadership of April Redzic,” the Downers Grove Democrat said in a statement. “Their advocacy and support of the individuals they house makes an incredible difference in our community.”
U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley chose fellow Chicagoan state Sen. Sara Feigenholtz. “She’s represented her district for decades,” he said.
“She’s a state senator now. She’s a good friend. It’s a very special honor and treat. To a large extent, I think she’s earned it with her service.”
Feigenholtz said Quigley had asked her before but “because of my conflicts with the legislative session, I have been unable to go. But I am excited to finally do this. It’s been on my bucket list, and I couldn’t say ‘no’ this time.
“I look forward to (Biden’s) remarks about the future of the country, emerging from the pandemic, and trying to send the olive branch out to the new (GOP) leadership. Hope springs eternal.”
U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi has invited Rushan Abbas, founder and executive director of Campaign for Uyghurs. The Schaumburg Democrat considers Abbas “an outspoken advocate for the human rights of the Uyghur people,” a spokesman said, adding Krishnamoorthi will focus on that “critical human rights issue” as the ranking member on the Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the U.S. and the Chinese Communist Party.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood of Naperville will bring retired cardiac ICU nurse Cindy Mundell to the Capitol.
“A dedicated cardiac nurse with more than 36 years of service, Cindy is the definition of a helper. She exemplifies the values that House Democrats are so proud to work for and defend,” Underwood said in statement, adding the party would fight against any cuts to Medicare and Social Security.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Delia Ramirez of Chicago has invited her husband, Boris Hernandez, who has received protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.
“I said that when I ran for Congress, this was personal,” Ramirez said in a statement sent to the Daily Herald. “It’s close to home. It’s no surprise that the first person I want to bring to the State of the Union is a Dreamer and that Dreamer is my husband.”
U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, a Democrat from Evanston, is also bringing her husband, Robert Creamer, a political organizer and strategist with the consulting firm Democracy Partners.
U.S. Rep. Jesús “Chuy” Garcia’s guest is Midway International Airport passenger service assistant and SEIU labor organizer Diana Ordaz Quezada.
“Diana’s life story represents the American dream,” the Chicago Democrat said in a statement. “Her immigrant parents came here looking for better opportunities for their family, and now Diana works to make our country a better place.”
• Daily Herald staff writers Alice Fabbre, Chris Placek, Kevin Schmit, Katlyn Smith, and Steve Zalusky contributed to this report.
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February 7, 2023 at 10:27AM