Who Is Sitting Behind Trump During the State of the Union?



U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (L) and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R) applaud after U.S. President Donald J. Trump delivers his first address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress on February 28, 2017.

During tonight’s State of the Union address, President Donald Trump will be sharing his plan for the coming year and his hope for working together with Democrats on some of his goals for the country. While you’re watching the State of the Union tonight, you may be wondering one question in particular: Who’s sitting behind Trump while he’s speaking to Congress and the nation?

Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan are sitting behind Trump during his State of the Union speech tonight. Although there’s no rule requiring that this happens, this is the tradition for every State of the Union speech. The top leaders of the Senate and the House always sit behind the President while he gives his State of the Union speech to a joint session of Congress. The Vice President is the top leader of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House is the top leader for the House.

Other things you might want to watch for during the speech include the special guests that Democrats and Republicans bring. You’ll want to watch to see if Trump goes off-script (and maybe count how many times he says “fake news.”) You’ll also want to keep an eye out for protests during the SOTU. Will anyone shout something out to Trump while he’s speaking? How many people will be wearing all black as a sign of solidarity for the women who speak out against sexual harassment?

Also, you’ll want to watch the response speeches after the State of the Union concludes. After Trump speaks, Rep. Joe Kennedy will deliver the Democrats’ official response to the State of the Union. He will deliver his response from his home state rather than attending the speech in person, The Washington Post reported. Elizabeth Guzman, a member of the Virginia state legislature, will also deliver a Spanish-language response, officially sponsored by the Democrats. But Progressives will be delivering responses of their own, official or not. Sen. Bernie Sanders will also deliver a response to the State of the Union via social media. Rep. Maxine Waters from California will also give a response during a BET news special. And Donna F. Edwards, a former Maryland Congresswoman, will also give an address for the Working Families Party.

Democrats are bringing quite a few guests. These include Chessy Prout (victim of sexual assault and guest of Rep. Annie Kuster); dozens of young immigrants who are part of the DACA program, including Karen Bahena, Melody Klingenfuss, and Nicolle Uria; and Cindy Garcia (her husband was deported after 30 years in the U.S., guest of Rep. Debbie Dingell).

President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump announced that the following guests will be seated with the First Lady during the speech: Corey Adams (a welder); Elizabeth Alvarado, Robert Mickens, Evelyn Rodriguez, and Freddy Cuevas (parents of girls murdered by MS-13); Corporal (Ret.) Matthew Bradford (blinded by shrapnel and lost both his legs in Iraq, then reenlisted); Jon Bridgers (founded the Cajun Navy); David Dahlberg (a fire prevention technician); Officer Ryan Holets (police officer who’s been shot twice); Ashlee Leppert (aviation electronics technician who rescued Americans during hurricanes); Agent Celestino “CJ” Martinez (supervisory special agent for Homeland Security); Staff Sergeant Justin Peck (U.S. Army, saved an officer struck by an IED); Preston Sharp (organized flags at veterans’ graves); and Steve Staub and Sandy Keplinger (started Staub Manufacturing Solutions).