New York lawmakers and their State of the Union guests

State of the Union 2005
State of the Union 2005
Rob Crandall/
The State of the Union address

New York lawmakers and their State of the Union guests

New York representatives are making political statements with their picks.
January 29, 2018

The annual State of the Union address isn’t just an opportunity for the president to make a political statement, but for lawmakers to do so as well – only instead of a long speech, members of Congress bring guests who reflect and represent their political priorities.

For President Donald Trump’s first official State of the Union address on Tuesday night, New York lawmakers will be accompanied by a range of guests, from a former addict to Dreamers to a deli owner. Here is the list of guests that have been announced by members of New York’s congressional delegation so far:

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer – The Senate minority leader will bring Stephanie Keegan, the mother of a military veteran who died of an overdose. With his guest, Schumer hopes to draw attention to the “beating back the opioid scourge and treating those afflicted by addiction.”

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand – New York’s junior senator will be accompanied by Carmen Yulin Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, who has been a vocal critic of Trump.

Rep. Lee Zeldin – Zeldin is bringing Donato Panico, a deli owner and founder of a nonprofit that provides food for first responders.

Rep. Tom Suozzi – Suozzi’s guest is Nelson Melgar, a constituent and a Dreamer, in light of Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Suozzi said that “we must fight for Nelson and other DREAMers like him.”

Rep. Gregory Meeks – Meeks is boycotting the State of the Union address.

Rep. Grace Meng – Like Gillibrand, Meng is drawing attention to the ongoing crisis in Puerto Rico by bringing Queens resident and displaced Puerto Rico native Omar Miguel Nieves Delgado to the address.

Rep. Nydia Velazquez – Velazquez will be attending the address with Amy Gottlieb, the wife of immigration rights activist Ravi Ragbir, who was previously detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. A judge ordered Ragbir be released on Monday.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney – Maloney will bring Diego De La Vega, an intern in her district office and a DACA recipient.

Rep. Nita Lowey – Lowey is also bringing a Dreamer, Hugo Acosta Mazariego, as her guest at the State of the Union. “I am proud to have him as my guest at the State of the Union Address, and I look forward to continuing to fight for the safety and security of Hugo and the 800,000 other Dreamers this Administration is holding captive with the threat of deportation,” she said in the statement announcing that he would be her guest.

Rep. Paul Tonko – Like Schumer, Tonko is hoping to bring attention to the opioid crisis with his guest, Brendan Norton. Norton, a former addict, now works as a rehabilitation counselor.

Rep. Elise Stefanik – Stefanik will be accompanied by Sarah Pratt, the daughter of a state trooper who died in the line of duty.

Rep. John Katko – Katko’s guest, Teresa Woolson, lost her teenage son to an overdose of synthetic marijuana. While in Washington, Woolson will join Katko in meetings with members of Congress to discuss the Stop the Importation and Trafficking of Synthetic Analogues Act, which Katko introduced.

Rep. Louise Slaughter – Slaughter is bringing Dustin Newman, an Army reservist who recently lost his job, which she says is because of the recently passed Republican tax plan.

Rep. Joe Crowley – The chair of the House Democratic Caucus is also highlighting the plight of DACA recipients by bringing Romer Cisneros, a Dreamer and a former intern of Crowley’s.

Rep. Claudia Tenney – Tenney will be accompanied by her son, Capt. Wayne Cleary, a member of the U.S. Marine Corps.

Rep. Adriano Espaillat – Espaillat is bringing Vanessa Caldari, a Puerto Rican midwife and founder of a women’s health organization, in order to raise awareness of maternal and infant health in Puerto Rico.

Rep. Peter King – King will bring his son-in-law, John Sweeney, while his daughter, Erin King Sweeney, will reportedly wait for the pair at the Trump International Hotel and join them for drinks afterward.

Rep. Tom Reed – A local news outlet reported that Reed will be bringing Tiffany Folk, the mother of a college student who committed suicide in December.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney – Maloney is reportedly bringing his brother, Joe, to the address.

Grace Segers
is City & State’s digital reporter. She writes daily content on New York City and New York state politics.