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Rep. Demings’ State of the Union Guests

February 4, 2019
Press Release

ORLANDO, FL – Tomorrow, Rep. Val Demings will attend the State of the Union with two guests: Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, and Ralph Velez, a federal employee at Orlando International Airport (MCO) who worked without pay during President Trump’s government shutdown. Mayor Demings will be in D.C. with the Orlando Economic Partnership.

Said Mr. Velez, “I am so proud and grateful to have this opportunity to represent my family and Central Florida at the State of the Union. I am also grateful to Rep. Demings for inviting me. I’m a federal worker who was personally affected by the shutdown. Its impacts were not just financial but also emotional, having to watch what my fellow federal workers had to go through.

“For many of us, we have dedicated our lives to serving our country, first in a military uniform and now as federal civilians. We do it because we know there must be a first line of defense between the America we love and those who wish to do us harm. We stood up and decided to be that line. All we ask in return is the respect, dignity, and the wages that we've earned.

“No political agenda or party affiliation should ever put the livelihood of anyone in an American service uniform in jeopardy. We are not pawns in a political game. We are the backbone of this country and at the very least should not have to worry about how we're going to buy groceries or keep a roof over our families' heads. It's time that our elected officials remember why they're in our nation's capital. It's to do what's right by the people they swore to serve.

“I hope that the president can see the economic turmoil and stress that his decision to shut down the government has caused, and that he does not repeat that mistake on February 15th. No honest working families in today's America should have to go through that stress and anxiety again. I’m eager to use this opportunity in Washington D.C. to share my family’s experience with policymakers and glad that I have an ally in Rep. Demings to help share that message.”

Said Rep. Demings, “I invited Mr. Velez to attend the State of the Union because more lawmakers need to understand that shutdowns have a real human impact. Our communities rely on federal workers like Mr. Velez to keep our food and skies safe, our air and water clean, and our nation and her values strong. Federal workers are not robots that can be turned on and off at will. Shutdowns mean missed paychecks, missed mortgage payments, trouble paying for groceries.

“The reckless and needless federal shutdown put millions of American families into financial and physical danger and must not be repeated. I know that Mr. Velez will be an effective and passionate voice on the behalf of his fellow federal employees. I’m glad to be able to give him the opportunity to share his shutdown experience with the lawmakers who can prevent more shutdowns from happening in the future.”