First lady hosts virtual guests, including transgender teen, for Biden address to congress

Politics

President Joe Biden arrives to address a joint session of Congress, Wednesday, April 28, 2021, in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, as Vice President Kamala Harris, left, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., look on. (Chip Somodevilla/Pool via AP)

WASHINGTON D.C. — First Lady Dr. Jill Biden held a virtual reception Wednesday for guests invited to watch President Biden’s first address to Congress – an unusual event held in light of strict coronavirus restrictions.

Guests of the first lady would traditionally sit in her viewing box for the president’s speech, but with invite-only protocols issued to top Congressional leaders, even Biden’s guests were barred from the event.

But her guests were able to land the reception with the first lady, addressing top political issues facing the country, like gun violence, immigration and transgender rights.

The White House said each of the first lady’s guests “personify some of the issues or policies” that the president will address in his message to Congress Wednesday night.

“Every morning for the last 100 days Joe has awakened with a sense of urgency,” the first lady said, acknowledging shared challenges across the nation like the coronavirus pandemic, access to broadband and childcare. “He knows that you’re counting on him for real solutions and that you can’t wait.

Biden invited six guests to virtually share their stories, including a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipient-turned-nurse who has cared for COVID-19 patients since the pandemic started.

Javier Quiroz Castro, who used his lunch break to speak with the First Lady from Houston, Texas about DACA, said the program allowed him to get his position as a nurse and become a “contributing member of society.”

Castro was joined by Stella Keating, the first transgender teenager to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of the Equality Act.

“I hope you decide to run for office,” Biden told Keating. “Politics is an honorable business and I think that we have to lift up that whole idea.

“Look at the change that you’re making, and I’m really proud of you,” Biden concluded.

Biden also commented on her trip to Navajo Nation last week and noted the setbacks children without broadband internet access faced during the coronavirus pandemic.

White House officials encouraged the guests to watch the president’s address this evening, marking a distinctive difference from previous years when guests would move from the White House reception to the Capitol for the annual event.

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