ROLLING MEADOWS, Ill. — A Rolling Meadows High School sophomore received a surprise phone call from first lady Jill Biden.
“Hello? Hello Kate. Hi, it’s Jill Biden. How are you doing? Would you like to be my guest at the State of the Union?”
Without hesitation, Kate Foley responded: “Yes, I would.”
Biden met Foley in November during a visit to Illinois with Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona as part of the Career Pathways Program. The first lady said Foley’s drive to become a biomechanical engineer impressed her.
Additional Illinois representation will be present for President Joe Biden’s second SOTU speech. US Senator Tammy Duckworth’s (D-IL) guest will be Erin King, Illinois’ Hope Clinic director.
“It is a huge honor to be here,” King said. “Senator [Duckworth] has multiple times reached out to our office, our clinic, our providers, our patients to show support for reproductive health access.”
Dr. King says hope clinic has become a haven for out-of-state women seeking abortions.
Other guests sitting in the first lady’s viewing box Tuesday night include Tyre Nichols’ parents, Ukraine’s ambassador to the US Oksana Makarova and Brandon Tsay, who disarmed a gunman in Monterey Park, California during the Lunar New Year.
Those invited personify issues, themes, or policies Biden is expected to discuss in his speech, such as justice in policing, gun violence, job growth, China and climate change.
Lawmakers remain divided on the direction they feel the country is headed, however.
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“As I talk to my constituents, there’s real concern over a 40-year high inflation, a border that is out of control; we’ve had over four million people cross our border illegally. We have real issues with China as we saw over the weekend with this balloon leisurely going across the country,” said US Rep. Darin LaHood (D-IL).
“To now be sitting here with unemployment at record lows that haven’t been there since 1969, the economy surging, we’re really in a good place and we have to make sure we keep up this momentum,” said US Rep. Sean Casten (D-IL).
“Our national debt is high, too high and the problem is getting worse, not better. We are now $31 trillion in debt. That is more than the size of the entire American economy,” said Speaker of the US House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy.
Biden’s SOTU address is slated to begin at 8 p.m.