An interesting phenomenon developed Tuesday afternoon during the last vote series on the House floor before President Obama's State of the Union address. Lawmakers from both parties began saving seats for the event. Of course, the most-coveted spots are on the aisle.
Many lawmakers affixed business cards to the backs of chairs. Others scribbled their names on notebook paper and taped it to a seat. But even though lawmakers are scrambling to reserve seats, it's a violation of House rules.
Toward the end of the legislative session, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., who was presiding over the House, read a statement warning all Members that seat-saving was prohibited and that "the rules would be applied strictly."
But that didn't stop lawmakers from scouting out prime seat locations.
Of note, Reps. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., Norm Dicks, D-Wash., and Jerry Lewis R-Calif., reserved seats together on the Democrats' side of the aisle. Reps. Charlie Bass, R-N.H., and Jay Inslee, D-Wash., saved seats on the Democratic side. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, is known for always reserving a seat on the aisle so she can greet the president, regardless of party. This year, she snared a seat on the aisle...with Rep. Pete Olson, R-Texas. Olson says they will talk NASA issues later.
At the end of the final House vote, the chamber cleared out. Jackson Lee was nowhere to be seen. But Olson was seen milling around the center aisle where Jackson Lee usually stakes out a spot...guarding a purse.
The longest-serving lawmaker in House history, Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., grabbed a seat near the front on the Democratic side of the aisle.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., is also one who usually sits on the aisle to greet the president. And Tuesday tonight, the Florida Republican planned to sit with bipartisan members of the women's Congressional softball team. But Ros-Lehtinen won't be around tonight.
"Due to my mother's failing health from Alzheimer's complications, I will stay at her bedside at Miami's Baptist Hospital," Ros Lehtinen said.