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Which guests have been invited to the State of the Union?

President Joe Biden will seek to lay out the case for his re-election and address a range of pressing issues both domestic and international when he delivers his latest State of the Union address to a joint-session of Congress on Thursday evening.

The Democrat is expected to tout his achievements in the White House, allay concerns about his age and warn of the threat to democracy posed by Donald Trump and hard-right Republicans across the country as he readies for a crucial election year.

The president’s address is likely to cover the economic recovery and infrastructure wins he has overseen from the Oval Office and feature a call for greater cooperation in the House of Representatives on spending deals to avert another looming government shutdown and to resolve the illegal immigration crisis at the southern border.

He is also likely to stress the need for international unity in the face of conflicts raging in Ukraine and Gaza, his stance on the latter having become a particular issue in the Democratic primaries where voters in states like Michigan and Minnesota have come together to mark their ballot papers “uncommitted” to express their disapproval of his failure to demand a ceasefire – a tension he will seek to soothe.

“It’s going to be a moment that’s incredibly important to him,” President Biden’s White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said of the speech this week.

“He’s looking forward to talking about the accomplishments that he’s made in the last three years and also the vision that he has for this country.”

The president’s address will commence at 9pm EST (2am GMT) on Thursday night and The Independent will bring you all the very latest coverage in our dedicated liveblog, as well as all the breakout news lines via our website and social media channels.

The State of the Union will also be covered by all the major US television news networks and broadcast live on C-SPAN and on the White House’s official website and YouTube channel.

As is customary, a number of high-profile guests have been invited to watch the important occasion of state in the company of their representatives.

This year’s list of invitees – not all of whom are able to attend – includes:

Yulia Navalnaya

Invited but unfortunately not able to attend, according to the White House, is the widow of the late Russian dissident Alexei Navalny, who died in mysterious circumstances in an Arctic prison camp last month after being imprisoned on trumped up charges for daring to speak out against Vladimir Putin and exposing corruption within his regime.

Olena Zelenska

Ukraine’s first lady was also invited to attend in recognition of her nation’s heroic resistance to Russia’s military invasion but, like Ms Navalnaya, cannot be there.

Mikhail and Ella Gershkovich

House speaker Mike Johnson will host the father and mother of Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who, like Navalny, is imprisoned on spurious charges in Mr Putin’s Russia.

Kate Cox

First lady Dr Jill Biden’s guest will be Kate Cox, a Texas mother forced to seek an emergency abortion outside of her home state after suing for the right to terminate a non-viable pregnancy, whose invitation is intended to draw attention to the conservative pro-life movement’s war on access to maternal healthcare and reproductive rights across the country.

Kate Cox was forced to seek an emergency abortion outside her home state of Texas (Kate Cox)
Kate Cox was forced to seek an emergency abortion outside her home state of Texas (Kate Cox)

Ulf Kristersson

The first lady will also host Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson as Sweden finally joined Nato on Thursday after a lengthy process held up by Turkey and Hungary. Finland and Sweden began the process of joining the military alliance after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Mr Biden will likely highlight his work to keep US alliances together in the face of Russian aggression and increased competition with China. Mr Trump has made increasingly hostile comments about the alliance, suggesting that he would encourage Russia to invade Nato members who don’t spend enough on defence.

“Sweden is a strong democracy with a highly capable military that shares our values and vision for the world. Having Sweden as a NATO Ally will make the United States and our Allies even safer,” the White House said.

Kayla Smith

Another woman who was forced to flee her home state to receive an abortion is Kayla Smith, who had to leave Idaho in 2022 because of its strict legislation, which would not allow her to receive a termination in spite of fears for her own health as a result of complications in her pregnancy.

She subsequently received one in Washington and has since relocated her family to Seattle.

She is the guest of that state’s Democratic senator Patty Murray.

Dr Caitlin Bernard

The Indiana doctor who provided an abortion to a 10-year-old girl, pregnant after being raped in Ohio, after Roe v Wade was struck down will be in attendance as the guest of California Democratic representative Judy Chu.

Elizabeth Carr

Another guest invited to illustrate the theme of reproductive rights and, specifically, the Alabama Supreme Court’s February ruling that frozen embryos should be recognised as children under state law, is that of Elizabeth Carr: the first American to be born via IVF.

She will be the guest of Virginia Democratic senator Tim Kaine.

Reproductive care and IVF campaigners

Other maternal healthcare activists on the guest list include: Amanda Zurawski of Texas; Jodi Hicks, CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California; endocrinologist and infertility specialist Dr Amanda Adeleye; and Barbara Collura, president and CEO of Resolve: The National Infertility Association.

Latorya Beasley from Birmingham, Alabama will also be in the first lady’s box.

“Beasley and her husband had their first child through in vitro fertilization (IVF) in 2022 and were in the process of expanding their family through another round of IVF when her embryo transfer was abruptly canceled as a result of the recent Alabama Supreme Court decision,” the White House said.

The relatives of 17 Americans held hostage by Hamas

Mr Johnson and House minority leader Hakeem Jeffries will be hosting the families of 17 US citizens captured by the Islamist group in Israel during the terror attack of 7 October 2023.

Fat Joe

The rapper was invited by California Democratic congresswoman Nanette Barragan to promote price transparency within the US healthcare system in recognition of his work with lawmakers in DC in 2023 on behalf of the patients’ rights group Power to the Patients.

Liz Shuler

The president of the AFL-CIO union, which has endorsed President Biden this year, was invited by Wisconisin Democrat Mark Pocan, co-chair of the Congressional Labour Caucus.

Dawn Chapman

A campaigner for victims of radiation poisoning, Ms Chapman is the guest of Missouri Republican senator Josh Hawley.

Fred Hamilton

A Vietnam veteran exposed to toxins who subsequently benefited from the help offered by the Promises to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act 2022, Mr Hamilton is the guest of Montana Democratic senator Jon Tester.

Parents of Laken Riley

The parents of Laken Riley, 22, have declined an invitation from Rep Mike Collins, Republican of Georgia. Ms Riley, a nursing student was allegedly murdered while jogging on the campus of the University of Georgia.

“I invited Laken Riley’s parents to the State of the Union address, but understandably, they have chosen to stay home as they grieve the loss of their daughter,” Mr Collins wrote on X. “Therefore, the seat reserved for my guest will remain vacant to honor Laken and all American victims of illegal alien crime. As Joe Biden attempts to paint a rosy picture of the crime-ridden country he has created, he will look up at an empty seat that memorializes those we’ve lost because of his open border policies.”

Jazmin Cazares

Ms Cazares lost her sister Jackie in the Uvalde school shooting in Texas at Robb Elementary School, with the White House noting that “She spoke alongside March for Our Lives leaders at the Texas State Capitol and testified before lawmakers to advocate for tighter background checks and extreme risk protection order laws”.

Shawn Fain

When Mr Biden became the first president to join a labour union on strike, it was with the United Auto Workers. Mr Fain, its president, has been a member of the union for 29 years.

“After hard-fought negotiations and a ‘Stand-Up’ strike that inspired workers across the country, the UAW won historic pay increases, greater retirement security, more paid leave, and more dignity and respect,” the White House said.

Bettie Mae Fikes

A singer and civil rights advocate, Ms Fikes was a “Bloody Sunday Foot Soldier in Selma, Alabama in 1965,” becoming known as “the voice of Selma,” the administration noted, adding that this year’s speech will take place on the 59th anniversary of Bloody Sunday when civil rights marchers were met with police violence.

Maria Shriver

A member of the Kennedy family and a former first lady of California during the governorship of her now ex-husband Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ms Shriver “works to use her voice and platforms to advance some of our nation’s most pressing issues affecting women and women’s health”.