Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Just Announced A Special Guest For The State Of The Union

And she's not the only one.

New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand has extended an invitation to the State of the Union address to an unlikely attendee: San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz.

Cruz, who led local recovery efforts in San Juan during the worst natural disaster in Puerto Rico's history, became a familiar face on the news after Hurricane Maria devastated the U.S. territory. Now, though, she'll have a seat in the audience for one of the most important political moments of President Donald Trump's first year in office.

"I want to make sure we don't forget about our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico," Gillibrand said in an appearance on The View. "If you can imagine for a minute what these families in Puerto Rico are going through, some of the worst crises ever. They don't have clean water in some places on these islands, they don't have electricity."

Gillibrand said that her own children would have a fit if the internet went out, and she struggled to explain to them the situation in Puerto Rico. 

"How would your life be affected?" Gillibrand said. "These are our fellow Americans and we're doing nothing for them." 

Cruz thanked Gillibrand on Twitter, saying it was "an honor to represent thousands in San Juan and more in Puerto Rico who still have no electricity." Two weeks ago, the moment one school saw its power restored after went viral. A faculty member caught students and teachers celebrating in the halls after 112 days without power came to an end. The video underscored just how extreme the situation is and has been.

90 percent of Puerto Rico lost power when Hurricane Maria hit, and 17 percent of the island is still without power, according to government data. Some schools were shut down for months, and others are still fighting to stay open. Gas stations, ATMs and cell phone towers are yet to be fully restored. 

Since the hurricane, approximately 300,000 Puerto Ricans have found refuge in Florida, where they are taking shelter while the island's infrastructure is rebuilt.

illibrand wasn't the only one to invite a special guests. President Trump is inviting a police officer who adopted the child of a homeless opioid addict, the founder of the Cajun Navy and the first blind, double-amputee to re-enlist in the Marines. Many members of Congress have their own guest lists. Rep. Ed Perlmutter is bringing the daughter of a Denver man who was deported, Rep. Nancy Pelosi invited a group of DACA recipients and Rep. Joe Kennedy III invited a transgender soldier. 

Cover photo: REUTERS/Carlos Barria

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