(WASHINGTON) — For the third straight year, Senators Mark Udall, D-Colo., and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, called for bipartisan seating during the president’s State of the Union address on Feb. 12, a so-called “date night” as it has been informally dubbed in the past.
Rather than Republicans and Democrats sitting en masse together on their respective sides of the aisle during the president’s address to a joint session of Congress, the senators call for members of Congress to team up with a member of the opposite party sitting as “dates” together.
This is a tradition the senators started in 2011, in the wake of the shooting of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona. The simple idea, aimed at projecting a greater sense of unity and civility in politics, was continued on in 2012, yet without the matching depth of participation as the first time around.
Wednesday the senators sent a letter to leaders from the House and Senate asking for this to happen again this year with the promise to work toward making it a permanent tradition in Congress.
“This year, as we begin a new Congress, we are again asking our colleagues to sit together as representatives of the American people and not just representatives of political parties,” Udall and Murkowski wrote in the letter to Senate and House leaders.
“We have the obligation to show that there is a place for civility and bipartisanship on Capitol Hill,” Sen. Udall said Wednesday in a statement, calling it a “symbolic step toward “bridging the partisan divide and encouraging Congress to find common solutions to our nation’s problems.”
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