In the first lady's box: a woman from Oak Park who lost her unemployment benefits. Senator Dick Durbin has invited a navy corpsman from batavia wounded by an IED in Afghanistan. And Senator Mark Kirk hopes his guest makes his colleagues in Congress realize all those promises for federal help after disasters strike, sometimes don't materialize.
"My thing from day one was a lot of people loved us early on, but will they love us six months, two years from now?" said Gary Manier, Washington, Ill., mayor.
Despite damage to more than 1,000 homes and a 47-percent estimated loss to its property tax base, FEMA denied assistance because its formula is computed on a per capita basis.
"Hopefully it'll draw attention to a failed system as far as the formula," Manier said.
"If you're a state that has a huge city in it like we do - Chicago - you're always going to be left out by the old formula," said Sen. Kirk, (R) Illinois.
While Senator Kirk, Washington's mayor and others look on, the president will try to right a shaky ship. A botched health care rollout, the NSA spying scandal, and stalled immigration reform cast a shadow over his fifth year in office. The plan now?
"We want immigration reform, investment in infrastructure and a skilled labor force. These are the kind of things you'll hear the president talk about, wery action oriented, both working with Congress and what we can do on our own," said Penny Pritzker, U.S. Commerce Secretary.
"There are a lot of Republicans in the House willing to work with the president, but everything we're hearing the president spend time talking about is how he doesn't need Congress and will go around Congress," said Rep. Adam Kinzinger, (R) Channahon.
One way the president plans to go around Congress: he'll announce he's signing an executive order to increase in the minimum wage for new federal contract workers to $10.10 an hour. The White House hopes this will put pressure on Congress to raise the minimum wage for all workers.