House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) became the first member of House leadership to publicly join calls for bipartisan seating at the President’s State of the Union address to the nation later this month.
If the proposal from Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), which has also gained the support of Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), is carried out, this year's State of the Union will be the first in American history at which Democratic and Republican lawmakers will have sat together.
“I believe that members of both parties can symbolize our common citizenship and common interests by sitting together to hear the president’s remarks, rather than divided across the aisle by party," said Hoyer in a statement.
"A gesture like this won’t make partisanship disappear, nor should it — democracy is built on strong disagreements between the parties. But this gesture, which was first suggested by the independent group Third Way and supported by Senator Mark Udall, should help end the political theater of repeatedly seeing one side of the aisle rise in applause, as the other sits still. We must always consider ourselves Americans first, and Democrats or Republicans second. It is my hope that this new tradition can remind us that, no matter what our differences, we all come to Congress with the nation’s best interests at heart."
President Obama’s yearly address is scheduled for Jan. 25.