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updated: 1/30/2018 11:42 AM

Duckworth taps downstate principal as State of the Union guest

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  • U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, right, met with Cairo High School Principal Lisa Childs Thomas last year to discuss the beleaguered community's future. Duckworth has chosen Thomas as her guest for the 2018 State of the Union address tonight.

    U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, right, met with Cairo High School Principal Lisa Childs Thomas last year to discuss the beleaguered community's future. Duckworth has chosen Thomas as her guest for the 2018 State of the Union address tonight.
    Courtesy of Tammy Duckworth

  • U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren

    U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren

  • U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider

    U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider

 
 

A high school principal from downstate Cairo is attending tonight's State of the Union address as U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth's guest.

Duckworth, a Hoffman Estates Democrat, said she selected Lisa Childs Thomas as her guest to highlight the effect President Donald Trump's administration's public housing policies will have on beleaguered communities like Cairo.

A news release from Duckworth's office noted that Thomas grew up in a public housing complex in Cairo that is being shuttered by the Trump administration. Duckworth said there is no plan in place by the federal government nor state and local authorities to rehouse the hundreds of residents who will be displaced.

"Lisa is a tireless advocate for Cairo and she represents countless other Americans working to improve their communities with limited resources and support," Duckworth said. "Donald Trump promised hardworking Americans exactly like Lisa that he would invest in and help rebuild communities exactly like hers. More than one year into office, we've seen little investment from his administration."

Thomas is a career educator who became principal at the local junior high and high school in 2016. She said Trump "went back on his word" to help improve the lives of rural Americans.

Guests of other suburban legislators, including public health advocates, military personnel and recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, will join Thomas in the House gallery.

Meanwhile, two congressmen serving districts in the suburbs -- Democrat Brad Schneider of Deerfield and Republican Randy Hultgren of Plano -- announced they will sit together during the speech as a show of bipartisanship.

"When it comes down to it, we can all agree on about 80 percent of the issues facing the nation," Hultgren said. "Building relationships in Congress and working on common goals can help us address the other 20 percent without being divisive."

Schneider echoed his colleague's sentiment.

"Crossing the aisle at the State of the Union is a small symbolic gesture, but hopefully one we can build on in the days ahead to put partisanship aside and start working constructively on problems facing our nation," he said.

The president's address is slated to begin at 8 p.m. locally and will be carried on most major networks as well as cable news channels.

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