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Congressman hosts Newton deputy as ‘virtual guest’ to Biden speech
Andre Cooper
Andre Cooper - photo by Special to The Covington News

A Newton County constituent was a “virtual guest” of U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson to President Joe Biden’s Joint Address to Congress Wednesday night.

Newton resident Andre Cooper was one of two guests of Johnson, D-Lithonia, to the Joint Address, a news release stated.

In the past, members of Congress often invited constituents to join them as guests to such speeches in Washington, D.C. 

While COVID-19 safety protocols mean this year’s in-person attendance was limited, Johnson said inviting his guests to take part virtually is a way to lift the stories and voices of residents of Georgia’s 4th Congressional District, which includes part of Newton County.

Cooper, a deputy with the Newton County Sheriff's Office, received the $1,400 Economic Impact Direct Payment under Biden's American Rescue Plan, a news release stated. 

The payment allowed Cooper to catch up on living expenses and the COVID-19 vaccination program allowed him, his wife and his parents to get vaccinated. 

It also enabled them to have face-to-face visits with Cooper's father, who lives with Parkinson’s disease, and allowed his parents to visit with their grandchildren who they had not seen in person in more than a year, the release stated.

Johnson also hosted Paula Moreland as a virtual guest. The disabled Rockdale County resident received the $1,400 Economic Impact Direct Payment and was able to pay for some home repairs and buy medication she desperately needed, the news release stated.

The Joint Address was Biden’s first speech to a Joint Session of Congress and marked 100 days into the president’s first term. 

“100 Days into our work with this administration, the American Rescue Plan is delivering shots in arms, money in pockets, children in schools and people in jobs,” Johnson said.

“Americans like Paula and Andre are the true heroes of this recovery, and I am proud to uplift them as my virtual guests to the Presidential Address,” he said.