Murkowski, Udall Again Lead Bipartisan Seating Push
Senators Aiming to Top Last Year’s 200 Members Crossing Party Lines for State of Union Address
WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Lisa Murkowski was joined by Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) today to renew their push for members of Congress to set aside partisanship for an evening and sit together during the president’s State of the Union address. The two wrote a letter (attached) directly to U.S. Senate and House of Representative leaders, encouraging support for this small but meaningful gesture. Last year, the two Senators were able to build enough momentum that over 200 lawmakers sat side-by-side with an elected official from the other party.
This is the third year in a row the two have called on party leaders to embrace this bipartisan practice. Tradition only requires that the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate gather together in the House chambers for the speech, but does not dictate where they sit.
"This year, as we begin a new Congress, we are again asking our colleagues to sit together as representatives of the American people and not just representatives of political parties. We believe that with your help, we can make this a permanent tradition," the Senators write. "Although our political discourse often falls short of what the country expects, we are all United States senators and congressmen. In these historically challenging times for our nation, we all share the goal of putting the United States back on the right track and getting Americans back to work. … We therefore continue to believe that permanent bipartisan seating at the State of the Union address would be one small way to bridge our partisan divide and to encourage Members to find solutions to our nation's problems."
Udall and Murkowski started working together in 2011 to urge their colleagues to set aside the practice of sitting by party affiliation.