Rep. Delia Ramirez to deliver national address for progressive group after State of the Union
WASHINGTON — Freshman Rep. Delia Ramirez, D-Ill., will make her national speaking debut on Tuesday, delivering the Working Families Party response to the State of the Union, speaking after President Joe Biden and the GOP rebuttal from the new Arkansas governor, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, ex-President Donald Trump’s White House press secretary.
Biden delivers his second State of the Union speech at 8 p.m. Chicago time.
For the first time, he will speak before a GOP-controlled House, with Speaker Kevin McCarthy behind him.
The Working Families Party, a national organization, is part of the progressive left wing of the Democratic Party and is active in Chicago politics.
This is the biggest speech Ramirez has ever given, and she will do it twice — in Spanish and English.
“So personally, it feels like a sense of responsibility, coupled with deep gratitude. And it’s nerve-racking,” Ramirez, from Chicago, told the Sun-Times on Monday afternoon.
She’s been working on the speech for two weeks and rehearsing for the last five or six days, this being her first substantial use of a teleprompter.
Ramirez is expected to applaud Biden’s accomplishments in his first two years but recognize the limits he now faces with divided government, particularly as it pertains to immigration.
She said she would urge Biden to use his executive authority to provide more legal protections and work authorizations for Dreamers — undocumented people brought to the U.S. as youths by their parents — “knowing that we won’t really pass any true legislative immigration reform under Republican control.”
Every member receives one ticket for a guest to be in the House gallery for the State of the Union.
Ramirez, the daughter of Guatemalan immigrants, who represents the 3rd Congressional District, will give hers to her husband, Boris Hernandez, who would be at risk for possible deportation to Guatemala if he lost his status as a recipient of protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA.
Rep. Mary Miller to boycott
Miller, from downstate Oakland, who represents the 15th Congressional District in southern Illinois, said in a statement that she would boycott Biden’s speech.
Part of the GOP House hardright-wing Freedom Caucus and an endorser of Trump’s 2024 reelection bid, Miller said she was skipping the address because of a variety of alleged, unsubstantiated “lies” from Biden, including about border security and the “national security risk” from the suspected Chinese spy balloon and classified documents found at his Delaware home.
Her guest will be retired Air Force Col. Mark Hurley of Sherman, near Springfield, who Miller said left the military over the now-rescinded COVID vaccine mandate.
Guests represent causes
To highlight Illinois’ role in helping Ukraine, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., invited Chris Manson, from Peoria, founder of U.S. Ambulances for Ukraine. To underscore her abortion-rights battles, Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., asked Erin King, the director of the Hope Clinic in Granite City.
Sometimes tickets are used for family members. Chicago freshman Rep. Jonathan Jackson, D-Ill., from the 1st Congressional District, is taking his father, the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
The 2nd Congressional District Rep. Robin Kelly, from Matteson, is taking Annette Nance-Holt, the Chicago Fire Department commissioner, who for decades has been campaigning to curb gun violence after her son, Blair, was shot on a CTA bus in 2007.
Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, D-Ill., from the 4th Congressional District, who is running for Chicago mayor, is hosting Diana Ordaz Quezada, an SEIU Local-1 passenger service assistant at Midway Airport.
To highlight homelessness, Rep. Sean Casten, D-Ill., of Downers Grove, from the 6th Congressional District, invited April Redzic, president and chief executive of DuPage Pad, a provider of emergency shelter.
In the 7th Congressional District, Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., hosts a “virtual” guest who will be in Chicago, the 101-year-old Lillian Drummond, a longtime community activist on the West Side, where Davis lives.
The 8th Congressional District Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., from Schaumburg, the top Democrat of the new House China panel, throws a light on China’s human rights abuses by inviting Rushan Abbas, the executive director of the Campaign for Uyghurs.
In the 11th Congressional District, Rep. Bill Foster, D-Ill., from Naperville, hosts Michael Isaacson, the executive director of the Kane County Health Department.
Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Ill., also from Naperville, is bringing Cindy Mundell, a retired intensivecare nurse in the 14th Congressional District.