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Senate Democrats Honor Americans as Virtual Guests for the State of the Union

DPCC Chairwoman Stabenow Leads Effort to Uplift People Whose Lives Have Improved Because of the Work of President Biden and Democrats

WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats will highlight people across America as their virtual guests for President Biden’s State of the Union today. This year, Senate Democrats will tell the stories of Americans whose lives have improved because of the American Rescue Plan, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and other actions by Senate Democrats and the Biden Administration.

While COVID-19 safety protocols mean this year’s in-person attendance is limited, naming virtual guests is a special way for Democrats to honor hardworking men and women across the country who are part of America’s recovery.

“When President Biden took the oath of office, he pledged that help was on the way. The State of the Union is an opportunity to tell the stories of Americans whose lives have improved because of what we accomplished together this past year. Families, small businesses and farmers across the country have faced so many hardships during the pandemic. But because of the commitment and critical actions of Democrats and the resiliency of the American people, schools and businesses are safe and open, people are getting back on their feet and America is experiencing a historic recovery,” said Senator Stabenow.

This year, Senators are highlighting small business owners, bus drivers, teachers, health care workers and more that are seeing life get better step by step because of the work President Biden and Senate Democrats are doing. 

Senators are highlighting Americans who will be impacted by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

  • Senator Casey will be highlighting Daryl Luciani, who was the driver of the Port Authority bus in Pittsburgh on the Fern Hollow bridge when it collapsed last month. 
  • Senator Tammy Baldwin will be highlighting Randy Lorge from Shawano, Wisconsin, a 3rd generation plumber and the Director of Workforce Training and Development at the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO). Randy has trained hundreds of apprentice plumbers throughout Wisconsin and through IAPMO’s philanthropic efforts, he works to bring clean water to underserved and disadvantaged communities. 
  • Senator Padilla will highlight Fire Chief Scott Westrope to highlight the wildfire disaster funding included in Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Senator Cortez Masto is highlighting Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District Chief Charles Moore.
  • Senator Rosen will be highlighting Marc Ellis, President of the President of Communications Workers of America Local 9413 in Northern Nevada, which will benefit from the broadband investments of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. 
  • Senator Peters will highlight Justin Pomerville with UA Local 85 from Saginaw to discuss the impact of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act for workers.
  • Senator Hassan will highlight Gray Chynoweth, CEO of Minim, Inc., an innovative consumer technology business headquartered in Manchester, NH. Minim has experienced supply chain bottlenecks that have impacted its expenses and operations, and is working to enhance its operational resilience in part through partnerships with U.S.-based manufacturers. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act secured investments for the country’s highways and ports that will help ease supply chain bottlenecks and strengthen the transportation of goods.
  • Senator Smith will be highlighting Mayor Kim Norton from Rochester, MN to discuss the impact of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. 

Other senators are highlighting Americans receiving help from the American Rescue Plan.

  • Senators Stabenow will highlight Scott HammontreeSenator Whitehouse will highlight Bob Billington, and Senator Klobuchar will highlight Dayna Frank—all business owners whose venues received funding from the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program, which received funding in the American Rescue Plan. Senator Klobuchar was the author of the Save Our Stages Act.
  • Senator Cardin, Chair of the Senate Small Business Committee, and Senator Van Hollen will be highlighting small business owners in Maryland. Senator Cardin will be highlighting Spencer Jones, the owner of Chick & Ruth’s Delly in Annapolis, Lisa Smith, the Executive Director of the Bowie Business Innovation Center at Bowie State University, and Omar Muhammad from the Women’s Business Center at Morgan State University in Baltimore. Senator Van Hollen will be highlighting Julie Verratti of Denizen’s Brewing.
  • Senator Coons will highlight Paul Calistro, the Executive Director of West End Neighborhood House, which has continued growing its housing and anti-poverty proposals, including partnering with the State of Delaware on its pandemic housing assistance program. Paul is also a recipient of the 2020 America’s Service Commissions’ “Outstanding Commissioner” award.

  • Senator Hirono and Senator Booker will be highlighting educators in their states as schools reopened safely due to the American Rescue Plan. Senator Hirono’s guest, Whitney Aragaki, was awarded 2022 Hawaii Teacher of the Year. Senator Booker’s virtual guest this year is Angel Santiago, an educator in both Camden and Cumberland County, New Jersey. Mr. Santiago taught at Loring Flemming Elementary School in Gloucester Township but recently moved to Vineland Public School District and is the 2020-2021 New Jersey State Teacher of the Year.
  • Senator Murray will be highlighting Tanisha Harris who worked as a Court Appointed Special Advocate Program Specialist for the YWCA Clark County, where she advocated for children in the Dependency/Foster Care system and families in Clark County’s Family Treatment Court. She currently is a Hope Advocate for the Vancouver School District, advocating for homeless and unaccompanied youth. Her current position made possible by funds from the American Rescue Plan.
  • Senator Durbin will be highlighting Christine Morris, a Site Manager at Heartland Health Services in Peoria, Illinois and Senator Shaheen will honor Dr. Juliann Barrett, DO, President of the Medical Staff at Valley Regional Hospital to highlight the incredible work health care workers have done on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis and how the American Rescue Plan helped get Americans vaccinated. Dr. Barrett also serves as a Physician in the United States Army Reserves. Senator Gillibrand will be highlighting Samara Khan, a community health worker at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. Health Force funding in the American Rescue Plan helped the NYC Public Health Corps get off the ground last year and hire 500 community health workers like Samara within months.