Sen. Manchin wants to extend State of the Union 'date night' to committees

 "I am asking you, as the leaders of this country and Congress, to once against support the simple step of sitting together as Americans — not Democrats and Republicans — when we hear the president deliver the State of the Union address," wrote Manchin in the letter.

"We should repeat this tradition this year and we should expand this practice to committee meetings," he continued.

Lawmakers abandoned the longstanding tradition of sitting on opposite sides of the House chamber last year at the urging of a left-leaning think tank, Third Way, in response to the acrid atmosphere that followed the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) just a few weeks before the speech.

Manchin is not the first to suggest that "date night" ought to be repeated — Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) also called for a second round earlier this year. 

The letter Manchin penned to Obama and leadership is part of the broader “Standing Up for Common Sense” tour he is taking around the state, in which he is urging greater bipartisanship and civility in Congress, the Steubenville, Ohio, Herald-Star reported on Friday. 

"Congress has a 9 percent approval rating and I can't find the 9 percent who think we're doing a good job," said Manchin, cracking a joke senators often make on the Senate floor. "We can't be everything to everyone, and we need to focus on taking care of business here at home."