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GiaQuinta attends State of the Union as guest of Congressman Banks

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GiaQuinta attends State of the Union as guest of Congressman Banks

Feb 08, 2023 | 9:45 am ET
By Niki Kelly
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GiaQuinta attends State of the Union as guest of Congressman Banks
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Rep. Phil GiaQuinta's view as members and guests file in for Tuesday night's State of the Union address. (Photo courtesy of GiaQuinta)

House Democrat Leader Phil GiaQuinta had a “once in a lifetime” opportunity at the State of the Union Tuesday night thanks to fellow northeast Indiana colleague U.S. Rep. Jim Banks.

“When he called, I was a little surprised,” GiaQuinta told the Indiana Capital Chronicle. “We have always had a nice relationship. We served together for a few years and worked on some bills together when he was in the senate and I was in the House.”

Banks — the GOP frontrunner in the 2024 race for U.S. Senate — chose GiaQuinta as a guest, and welcomed him to his office and several receptions for House members at the Capitol. He sat three seats down from the New York City mayor and met numerous officials from the state.

GiaQuinta attends State of the Union as guest of Congressman Banks
Rep. Phil GiaQuinta, D-Fort Wayne, runs into Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg while attending the State of the Union Tuesday night. (Photo courtesy of GiaQuinta)

As for the speech, GiaQuinta was impressed.

“It was really good. It’s funny because you sit there and you are just listening and don’t know how it’s playing on TV,” he said. “But President Biden is in his comfort zone up there. I think he did a really good job of laying out what has been accomplished … and trying to lay the groundwork for working with the (Republican-led) House.”

GiaQuinta said “decorum has kind of gone out the window, and last night was no different” — referring to several outbursts from Republicans at Biden. He said he didn’t notice individual moments but collective groans and moans were quite loud.

He said some Democrats thought the heckling would be worse, and Biden looked as if he expected it. But GiaQuinta acknowledged that would never happen at the annual State of the State Address in the Indiana Statehouse.

“It was a lot of anticipation and excitement … and hopefully the message of working together to get things done will carry over,” GiaQuinta said before hopping on a plane home Wednesday morning.