Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) would like to use the late Sen. Edward Kennedy’s (D-Mass.) fleet of sailboats for a bipartisan Senate retreat.
"We have talked a little bit about a bipartisan team building retreat,” Udall told The Hill in an interview. He then raised the idea of using the fleet of the former senator, who died in 2009.
Udall came up with the idea of bipartisan seating for Tuesday night's State of the Union address, which will see much of official Washington crowd on to the House floor tonight to hear President Obama.
Udall said he has not yet talked to his colleagues about the idea of a sailing retreat, but said he thinks it is something they would really “grab hold of.”
The freshman senator has been energized by Congress’s enthusiastic reception of his idea for bipartisan seating. Senators and House members alike have been in a rush to find "dates" for the president's address, and the seating arrangements have been a driver of press coverage.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who appeared at a press conference to promote bipartisan seating for the address, admonished reporters that they should still focus on substance, not just bipartisan fun.
“I do hope though that you all, as those who are covering the president's comments, don’t spend the whole evening focusing on who is sitting next to who,” Murkowski said to a room full of about 50 reporters. “Its like going to the prom and worrying about who is wearing what dress. To a certain extent this has been a little like 8th grade."
In his comments in a press conference earlier on Tuesday, Udall also said he and other senators are thinking of finding a way to get the entire Senate together once a month to discuss policy over lunch.
In another reflection of bipartisan spirit, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said she intends to invite Budget Committee Chairman’s Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.), who has been depicted lately by Senate Democratic leadership as something of a budget bogeyman, out for dinner to discuss his better ideas.