· There are 449 permanent seats on the floor of the House of Representatives, not nearly enough to seat all members from both bodies, the diplomatic corps, the cabinet, Joint Chiefs, the Supreme Court, et al. They had a sprinkling of those seats on the floor. Some lawmakers wind up standing toward the back. And not all lawmakers go or stay the entire time. We always see a few stragglers skipping out early through Statuary Hall.
· Technically, lawmakers are not supposed to “save” seats along the aisle so they can greet the president and get to shake his hand on national television when enters the chamber. But a visit to the chamber a few moments ago reveals that several members have left bags, purses, hats and scarves on prized aisle seats to try to get a shot with Mr. Obama. Already lingering in the chamber are Reps. Steve Cohen (D-TN), Marcia Fudge (D-OH) and Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX).
· The House will again welcome the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps to the speech. That’s the longest-tenured diplomat in Washington. This is Roble Olhaye, who is the Ambassador to Washington fro Djibouti . Olhaye has served as Djibouti’s Ambassador to the US since 1988. He was away and missed last year’s State of the Union message.
· Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution requires that the president brief Congress “from time to time” on the “state of the Union.” President George Washington did it in person for a while. Thomas Jefferson disbanded the practice, arguing it seemed too much like a “speech from the throne.” A written report served as the official briefing to Congress until President Woodrow Wilson delivered a formal address to Congress in 1913. President Jimmy Carter did not give a State of the Union speech to Congress in January, 1981 during his last days in office. But he did submit a written report. Carter is the last to do so.
And be sure to join me tonight at 11pmET for a Facebook Q&A following the State of the Union coverage on Fox!