These Are the Guests for the 2024 State of the Union Address

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Families of the American hostages being held in Gaza. A doctor who came under attack for providing an abortion to a 10-year-old rape victim. The first person born via in-vitro fertilization (IVF).

These are some of the people who will attend President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address on Thursday night as guests of congressional lawmakers and the White House.

Guests are important aspects of the messaging strategy for their hosts, and the First Lady's guest list offers a preview of the themes and issues that will take center stage in the President's address. Based on the First Lady’s guests, some themes expected to feature prominently in Biden’s speech are women's reproductive rights, student loan forgiveness, the Israel-Hamas war, healthcare costs, and other domestic policy issues.

“Each of these individuals were invited by the White House because they personify issues or themes to be addressed by the president in his speech, or they embody the Biden-Harris Administration’s policies at work for the American people,” First Lady Jill Biden’s office said in a statement.

Here are some of the notable guests who will be in attendance.

Abortion and IVF

Kate Cox, who was denied an abortion in Texas despite doctors arguing that the pregnancy put her health at risk, will be a guest of the First Lady.

Latorya Beasley, whose IVF treatments were abruptly halted due to a court ruling in Alabama, is being hosted by the First Lady.

Kayla Smith, who traveled from Idaho to Washington state to get an abortion due to Idaho’s restrictive abortion laws after learning that the fetus she was carrying had inoperable heart defects, will be a guest of Washington Sen. Patty Murray, the Senate’s president pro tempore.

Amanda Zurawski, who was denied an abortion in Texas due to state law despite her being at risk for a life-threatening condition, was invited by Massachusetts Rep. Katherine Clark, the House Minority Whip. Zurawski received care only after going into septic shock, leaving her with permanent physical damage.

Caitlin Bernard, the doctor who came under fire for performing an abortion on a 10-year-old rape victim in 2022, was invited as a guest of Rep. Judy Chu, a California Democrat.

Tammi Kromenaker, the director of Red River Women’s Clinic, which was the only abortion provider in North Dakota before relocating to Minnesota to avoid a state ban, was invited by Democratic Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith.

Elizabeth Carr, who became the first baby in the U.S. born via IVF in 1981, will attend as a guest of Sen. Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat. 

Foreign affairs

Ella Milman and Mikhail Gershkovich, the parents of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who has been detained by Russia since last March on espionage charges that he and the U.S. denies, will be attending as guests of House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Louisiana Republican.

Seventeen relatives of American hostages who were taken by Hamas last year will be attending as guests of lawmakers in both parties. Among the guests are Orna and Daniel Neutra, the mother and brother of Omer Neutra, an American hostage held since the Oct. 7 attack in Israel, who were invited by the House Speaker and New York Republican Rep. Mike Lawler. Andrea Weinstein, the sister of American hostages Judy Weinstein Haggai and Gad Haggai who were both killed by Hamas, will be a guest of House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, a New York Democrat.

Intimaa Salama, a Palestinian master’s student at St. Louis University who has lost dozens of family members in Gaza, will be attending as a guest of Rep. Cori Bush, a Missouri Democrat who has called for an immediate ceasefire. Bush’s office said that 35 members of Salama’s family were killed in the ongoing war in Gaza.

Commander Shelby Nikitin, recognized for her leadership in protecting ships from Houthi rebel attacks in Yemen, was invited by the White House.

Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, who led Sweden in its campaign to join NATO and handed over documentation to make the move official on Thursday, was invited by the White House.

Domestic policy

Jazmin Cazares, a gun-control advocate whose nine-year-old sister Jackie was killed in the 2022 shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, will be a guest of the First Lady.

Shawn Fain, the head of United Automobile Workers (UAW) who endorsed Biden after he became the first president to join a picket line, will attend as a guest of the First Lady.

NYPD officer Zunxu Tian and Lt. Ben Kurian, who were attacked by migrants residing at a shelter near Times Square in January, will attend as guests of the House Speaker and New York Republican Reps. Nicole Malliotakis and Anthony D’Esposito.

Bettie Mae Fikes, a civil rights advocate who marched in Selma, Ala., on Bloody Sunday in 1965, will be a guest of the First Lady; the State of the Union address coincides with the 59th anniversary of Bloody Sunday.

Kameryn Pupunu, a Hawaiian police officer whose Lahaina hometown was devastated by the August wildfires, including four of his immediate family members, will be a guest of the First Lady.

Rapper Fat Joe, who met with lawmakers last year to advocate for healthcare price transparency, will be a guest of Rep. Nanette Barragán, a California Democrat. 

AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler, whose federation represents 60 affiliate unions and 12.5 million people, was invited by Congressional Labor Caucus Co-Chair Mark Pocan, a Wisconsin Democrat. 

Brandon Budlong, a Border Patrol agent and president of the National Border Patrol Council Local 2724, will be a guest of New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, chair of the House Republican Conference.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, will be attending as a guest of New York Rep. Adriano Espaillat to highlight Women’s History Month and state partnerships with the federal government. Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, will also be in attendance as a guest of Tennessee Sen. Bill Hagerty to highlight his disapproval of Biden's border policies.

Gabriel Shipton, the brother of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, will attend as a guest of Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie, a Republican. Assange has been indicted in the U.S. on espionage charges. 

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