A handful of lawmakers apparently eager for President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night began reserving center aisle seats in the House chamber by the early afternoon.

Members are supposed to physically remain in their desired seats in order to reserve them. But many lawmakers use purses, coats or papers as placeholders. One member appeared to use a copy of The Hill's print edition to reserve a seat.


The center aisle seats are the most desirable during the State of the Union because members can shake the president's hand as he makes his way to the podium on live national television. That often plays well for lawmakers back home in their districts, especially if the president is from their own party.

At least nine seats were taken by late afternoon. Most lawmakers milling around the House chamber were Democrats, including Reps. Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeSchumer throws support behind bill to study reparations Pelosi announces House resolution to condemn Trump's 'xenophobic tweets' O'Rourke says he and his wife are descended from slave owners MORE (Texas), Elijah Cummings (Md.), Steve Cohen (Tenn.), Marcia FudgeMarcia Louise FudgeHere are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment New York bans discrimination against natural hair Democrats already jockeying for House leadership posts MORE (Ohio) and Karen BassKaren Ruth BassHere are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment 'Orange is the New Black' author to Congress: Reform 'patriarchal' criminal justice system Top Democrat: Mass incarceration in US is 'an embarrassment' MORE (Calif.).

One Republican secured a prized center aisle seat: Rep. Billy Long (R-Mo.). 

Members are requested to be in their seats by 8:25 p.m., 35 minutes before the speech starts.