Senator Ben Nelson: Get Rid Of This Aisle!

Tuesday's State of the Union address drew lawmakers together for the so-called "kumbaya" bipartisan seating arrangement, and now Senator Ben Nelson, D-Neb., wants to extend it to the other side of the U.S. Capitol every day.

"I'm going to advocate-if there truly is an interest in working together-that we get rid of the aisle on the Senate floor," the senator said in a statement on his website. "We could sit not by party but by state, or by alphabet, or some other way that erases the partisan divide."

Democrats and Republicans have been sitting on opposite sides of the Senate aisle since 1877 when the practice of moving desks back-and-forth as party numbers changed began.

But it's not unheard of for majority members to sit on the minority side in the Senate. In 1907, Republicans had such a large majority, ten of them had to sit in the back row on the Democrats' side. In 1937 when Democrats held a large majority, 13 of them sat behind the Republicans.

But Senator Nelson says changing the more than century-old tradition would be in the country's best interest.

"America faces serious challenges and remarkable opportunities. Neither will be met or achieved if we continue the partisan, hyper-critical, one-side-wins-the-other-loses battles that have marred too many of our days in Washington over the last several years."

He wants to send a joint letter to Senate leaders suggesting they abandon the aisle in the hopes it helps to solve problems like the troubled economy, energy and the national debt.

"So, to paraphrase former President Reagan, whose declaration about the need for unity rings true today in a different context, I hope colleagues will join me and say, ‘Get Rid of This Aisle!,'" Nelson said.