Proposal for bipartisan seating at State of the Union gains support

Top-ranking Democrats from both chambers of Congress are endorsing the idea of ending the tradition of divided seating for this year's State of the Union address.

In statements released by their offices, Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), the third-ranking Democrat who also chairs the Democratic Policy Committee, and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said they support a proposal by Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) to end the tradition of partisan seating at the State of the Union address.

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On Wednesday, Udall sent a letter to House and Senate leaders of both parties introducing the idea.

“Sen. Udall has the right idea," Schumer said in his statement. "This would be a great way to start off the new session in a bipartisan way following up on the cooperation during the lame-duck and the president’s speech urging all Americans to come together.”

"I believe Congress has a responsibility to set an example of less ugly, less divisive debate," Hoyer said. "Coming together to hear an address on the state of our union in a few weeks is an especially important moment to recommit ourselves to approaching our public life with the respect and honesty that our serious, shared problems demand."

Schumer's and Hoyer's support gives Udall's proposal a great deal of momentum, even with the backing of a number of other Democrats.

The proposal comes in the aftermath of the shootings in Tucson, Ariz., last Saturday, which claimed the lives of six and hospitalized 13, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.). As a result there has been a reduction of aggressive political rhetoric in Washington politics and an increased sense of bipartisanship, of which Udall's proposal and the support it is receiving is just one of a number of examples.

The proposal has also garnered bipartisan support, including that of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).