Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaksa) has joined Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) in spearheading Udall's effort to have bipartisan seating at the State of the Union, Murkowski's office announced Friday.
In a letter to members of Congress today Murkowski and Udall propose Republicans and Democrats sit together during the State of the Union address. Currently, the tradition is for Democrats and Republicans to sit only with members of their party during the presidential address. The proposal comes after an earlier one by Udall where the Democrat and Republican leadership would sit together during the presidential address.
So far, 21 senators and nine members of Congress of both parties have endorsed the proposal.
In the letter, dated Friday, Murkowski and Udall write that sitting together would cultivate bipartisanship.
"On the night of the State of the Union address, House and Senate members from both parties outhgt to cross the aislie and sit together," the senators write. "As the nation watches, Democrats and Republicans should reflect the interspersed character of America itself. Perhaps by sitting with each other for one night, we will begin to rekindle that common spark that brought us here from 50 different states and widely diverging backgrounds to serve the public good."
Udall's proposal comes a week after the Arizona shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) which claimed the lives of six and hospitalized 13. Since the shooting both Republicans and Democrats have made made gestures of bipartisanship and an interest in cooling down agressive or violent rhretoric which some have argued contributed to the shooting. Udall's letter and Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio)'s decision to reschedule a vote to repeal the Obama Administration's healthcare reform legislation.
Twenty-one senators and nine members of the house have signed the letter as of Friday afternoon and Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has suggested he is open to the idea. Senate signers are as follows: Sen. Begich (D-Alaska), Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif), Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Sen. Kristen Gilibrand (D-N.Y.), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Udall for the Democrats and Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alska, and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Alaska) for the Republicans. In the House, all nine signers are Democrats. They are Bishop, Carney, Cohen, Matheson, Michaud, Pingree, Richardson, Ross, and Shuler. Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), who caucuses with the Democrats, has also signed the letter.
No Republican members of the House have signed the letter as of Friday afternoon.
The State of the Union is January 25th.