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California's 40th District

Feb 7, 2023 | In The News

The first State of the Union address following the 2022 midterm elections — and President Joe Biden‘s second overall — will be delivered on Feb. 7 in the House of Representatives.

The State of the Union, an annual message delivered by the president to a joint session of the House and Senate, includes the president’s agenda, current conditions of the economy and legislative achievements. And guests of the president and members of Congress may receive special shout-outs.

Past guests have included Apple CEO Tim Cook, baseball legend Sammy Sosa and Bill Nye, “the Science Guy.”

Related:How to watch and listen to President Biden’s State of the Union address

This year, some notable guests are set to make an appearance, including the parents of Tyre Nichols, who died three days after being beaten by Memphis police, and Brandon Tsay, who disarmed the gunman in the Monterey Park mass shooting last month where 11 people were killed. The White House said Tsay will be seated with the first lady and the second gentleman for the event.

Additionally, Sen. Alex Padilla said he will host former Monterey Park Mayor Henry Lo, who served from December 2021 to January 2023.

Members of Congress often invite guests to illustrate a point and to put a face to the issues they care about.

Here’s a look at who will accompany members of Orange County’s congressional delegation.

Katie Porter

Porter’s guest for the State of the Union is Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, the chief officer of the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO. Fletcher is the first woman and person of color to serve in the position, according to the California Labor Federation. She also served in the California State Assembly from 2013 to 2022, where she championed legislation that requires paid sick leave and overtime pay for farmworkers.

“Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher has been a champion for workers across our state for more than a decade. I’m honored to bring her as my guest to the State of the Union and hope her presence will serve as an urgent reminder of the need to stand firm against corporate giveaways,” Porter, an Irvine Democrat who is an outspoken critic of Wall Street, large oil companies and the global pharmaceutical industry, said.

“House Republicans have wasted no time in passing legislation that empowers tax cheats and hands our public lands to Big Oil. Lorena and I stand together in pushing our government to represent workers and consumers, not big corporations.”

Linda Sanchez

Sanchez’s guest at Biden’s address is a local elected official, Mayor Andrew Chou, who has presided over the city of Diamond Bar in eastern Los Angeles County since November 2022.

As a member of the City Council and now mayor, Chou regularly drops into local businesses and interacts with residents in the city’s Facebook group. The ability to attend the State of the Union is a unique opportunity for him to represent his community on a national stage, Chou said.

“I look forward to learning more about the priorities of our country and finding ways to work together to create a brighter future for all Americans,” said Chou.

“Mayor Chou has shown just how deeply he cares about the community he represents. He is a tireless advocate for diversity and equal opportunity who is committed to giving every member of the Diamond Bar community a voice in local government,” Sanchez, D-Whittier, said. “Mayor Chou has certainly earned his role as a respected leader, and I am grateful that he will be joining me on Tuesday.”

Sanchez said she hopes to hear more about economic growth and job creation during Biden’s address.

“We are supporting manufacturing, creating jobs, and investing in supply chains right here in Southern California,” Sanchez said. “I look forward to hearing about the progress we’ve made for working families and discussing how we can build on it together.”

Her district is anchored in Los Angeles County but includes portions of La Habra in Orange County.

Lou Correa

Correa will be joined by Anaheim resident Paulina Jimenez in the House Chamber. Jimenez, a first-generation Cal State Fullerton student, is a recipient of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. This Obama-era immigration policy provides certain protections from deportation for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children.

Correa, D-Anaheim, advocates for comprehensive immigration reform and has introduced related legislation.

“The fight for meaningful immigration reform is not over, and I’m so proud to be in this fight alongside Rep. Correa,” Jimenez, who is studying in Washington, D.C., and interning on Capitol Hill, said. “My message to every immigrant that makes this country strong is simple: Dream bigger than your borders, and don’t be afraid of turning your struggles into a success story … sí, se puede!”

Correa said he hoped to hear more from Biden on how “Democrats — working alongside our Republican colleagues — can lower costs for working families and uplift our hard-working American taxpayers.”

Michelle Steel

Steel won’t be taking a guest to the State of the Union this year, according to her office, but she does want to hear from Biden about the looming financial crisis and homeland security.

“The American people deserve an explanation from President Biden on how he will work with Republicans to bring our budget and national debt in check, regain control of our southern border and stand up to the (Chinese Communist Party) and Russia,” said Steel, who recently was appointed to a new committee tasked with probing the competition between China and the U.S.

Referencing the Chinese spy balloon that floated across the U.S. before being shot down over the weekend, Steel, R-Seal Beach, said: “Their aggression against the U.S. and all freedom-loving sovereign nations cannot be tolerated. In this State of the Union, President Biden must commit to partnering with Congress to find solutions to issues at home and abroad.”

Mike Levin

Levin, who serves on the Veterans’ Affairs Committee and has sponsored dozens of legislation to support veterans, will host local veteran Myrone “Bruce” Gaffney as his guest to the State of the Union.

Gaffney, who was also Levin’s “Constituent of the Month” for January, sustained a spinal injury in Afghanistan in 2013 that left him “permanently disabled,” according to the congressman’s office. Gaffney, who served nearly two decades in the U.S. Army during which he was deployed to Afghanistan, Kosovo and Germany, has relied on Social Security since 2015.

“It is an honor to represent veterans in my district, and Bruce exemplifies the bravery, perseverance and dedication that makes our community an amazing place to live,” Levin, D-San Juan Capistrano, said. “As Republicans discuss cutting Americans’ hard-earned Social Security benefits, such as those Bruce relies on, I’m proud to highlight Bruce as one of my constituents whose life would drastically be affected if benefits were slashed.”

As for what he wants to hear from the president, Levin said: “I’m hopeful we will hear about the strong legislative accomplishments and record employment numbers that have been achieved in the last two years. I also hope the president lays out a vision for how he will continue to tackle inflation, build on economic progress, fight extremism and remain committed to our agenda to help improve the lives of all Americans.”

Young Kim

Kim will also have a U.S. veteran — attorney and former U.S. Marine Captain Andrew Darlington — by her side during Biden’s address.

Darlington is a decorated veteran who received the Purple Heart for his service in Afghanistan, where he was deployed twice. He has worked with Kim to help rescue Americans and Afghan allies following the Biden administration’s withdrawal of U.S. troops, according to her office.

“Brave Americans like Andrew stepped up to save lives, keep promises made to our allies and show leadership during the chaos following the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. He is a hero, and I am honored to have gotten to know him and call him a friend,” said Kim. “We cannot fully repay those who served or bring back the lives lost, but I hope that during the 118th Congress we are able to get answers and learn lessons so we do not repeat the mistakes that were made during the Afghanistan withdrawal.”

In the last Congress, Kim introduced the Rescue Endangered SIVs and Citizens and Urgently Evacuate to Safety (RESCUES) Act to establish congressional oversight on State Department management of private evacuation operations. She plans to reintroduce it this Congress and will be focused on this as a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, her office said.

Kim, R-Anaheim Hills, said she hopes Biden will address national security, border control and economic issues.

“The world is watching President Biden as he gives his State of the Union address,” she said. “Bipartisanship means both sides coming to the table and working to find common ground for the good of the American people. I will continue to do all I can to fight for our communities in Congress, and I hope the President shows a willingness to do the same.”


The Orange County Register

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