March 06, 2024

Here are the guests of Illinois members of Congress for Biden's State of the Union address

When President Joe Biden delivers his State of the Union address Thursday to a joint session of Congress, the gallery above the House chamber will be filled with guests invited by him, the first lady and House and Senate members, with many of them there to put a human face on a policy, cause, tragedy or heroic act.

Here’s who members of Congress from the Chicago area — they are all Democrats — are bringing:


With access to in vitro fertilization now an issue, Sen. Tammy Duckworth, whose two daughters were born using IVF, invited Illinois reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist Dr. Amanda Adeleye to be her guest “as part of the senator’s continuing efforts to protect access to in vitro fertilization.”

Sen. Dick Durbin, the first senator to call for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war, is bringing Dr. Zaher Sahloul, a critical care specialist at Advocate Christ Medical Center and St. Anthony’s and president of MedGlobal, which provides medical services to crisis services, including in Gaza.

“His most recent work in Gaza is a stark reminder of the dire humanitarian needs unfolding in this current crisis that started with the horrific Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel,” Durbin said in a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday.


1st District Rep. Jonathan Jackson

Jackson invited a minister in his district, the Rev. Donald Parson, leader of the Logos Baptist Assembly in Chicago.

2nd District Rep. Robin Kelly

Kelly has worked on Black maternal health issues for years. Her guest is Dr. Lisa Green, a Black maternal health specialist and CEO of the Family Christian Health Center in Harvey.

3rd District Rep. Delia Ramirez

Immigration activist Elvira Arellano, who in 2006 sought refuge in a Chicago church after a deportation raid at O’Hare Airport, where she worked, threatened her livelihood and her family. She and her son, Saul, were sheltered at Adalberto Memorial United Methodist Church in Humboldt Park while her asylum application was pending.

4th District Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia

Given the threats to abortion rights and access to IVF treatments, Garcia is bringing the chief development officer of Planned Parenthood of Illinois, Abby Favro, a constituent from Elmhurst.

5th District Rep. Mike Quigley

After 15 years of taking as guests, teachers, state senators, alderpersons, artists and other important members of the community, Quigley held an office raffle for the spot with the winner, Taylor Ortiz, a staff assistant.

6th District Rep. Sean Casten

Casten invited Priscilla Steinmetz, founder and executive director of the Bridge Teen Center, a nonprofit that provides free programs during after-school and unsupervised hours where students can develop mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually in a safe environment.

7th District Rep. Danny Davis

Davis asked Sheyann Webb Christburg, who was 8 years old when she marched from Selma to Montgomery on what is known as Bloody Sunday.

8th District Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi

Planned Parenthood of Illinois President and CEO Jennifer Welch is Krishnamoorthi’s guest, as access to IVF and abortion are at risk since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022.

9th District Rep. Jan Schakowsky

She is bringing her husband, Robert Creamer, a political consultant.

10th District Brad Schneider

Schneider’s guest is Abby Polin, the Skokie resident whose nephew, Hersh Goldberg-Polin, is being held hostage in Gaza after being taken during the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks in Israel. Goldberg-Polin's parents, Rachel Goldberg and Jon Polin, were born and raised in Chicago.

11th District Rep. Bill Foster

In recognition of the push to reopen the Stellantis Belvidere Assembly Plant, Foster’s guest is Matt Frantzen, president of UAW Local 1268 in Belvidere.

14th District Rep. Lauren Underwood

Rashad Bilal, CEO of media and online education platform Earn Your Leisure, is Underwood’s guest.

By:  Lynn Sweet
Source: Chicago Sun-Times