Biden State of the Union guests include Nichols family, Ukraine ambassador and Bono

Luis Magana/AP Photo

The White House’s guest list for President Joe Biden’s State of the Union speech represents a wide range of policy priorities for the Biden administration, notably including Ukraine’s Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova, Tyre Nichols' parents and Paul Pelosi.

“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,” the Biden administration said in a Tuesday announcement of the 26 guests who will join first lady Jill Biden in the White House viewing box.

The announcement comes ahead of Biden's State of the Union address on Tuesday evening at the Capitol, where he’s expected to touch on key efforts of his administration and soft-launch a 2024 reelection campaign message.

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The United States’ ongoing support of Ukraine is likely to be a highlight of Biden’s address, especially with Markarova joining the first lady as a guest for the second year in a row. The Ukraine ambassador received a standing ovation at last year’s State of the Union, just days after Russia had launched its war on Ukraine.

Politically motivated violence and extremism are sure to be topics of Biden’s speech with Paul Pelosi on the guest list, after the former House speaker’s husband was violently attacked by a home intruder in the fall of 2022. The White House guest list also includes Monterey Park, Calif., Lunar New Year shooting survivor Brandon Tsay, who heroically stopped the gunman from carrying out a second attack.

The president is also expected to discuss justice in policing, given the attendance of the parents of Tyre Nichols, a Black man who died in Memphis last month after being beaten by police.

Several people on the guest list have been impacted in some way by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, including Saria Gwin-Maye, an ironworker and union member who will work on repairing a bridge in Kentucky that’s receiving an investment because of the legislation. Another guest, Deanna Branch is working to build a lead-safe community after her son suffered from lead poisoning, an initiative Biden's infrastructure law has provided funding for.

The White House’s other guests highlight key topics such as job growth, the Inflation Reduction Act, abortion, mental health, cancer and combating antisemitism, among others. The first lady also invited U2 lead singer Bono, who’s a well-known activist in the fight against HIV and AIDS.