Senator Pushes Bipartisan Seating Chart For State Of The Union

Amid calls for less partisanship, one U.S. Senator wants congressional members to come together through the seating arrangement for the State of the Union Address later this month.

Traditionally, Democrats and Republicans sit on opposite sides of the House chamber when the president speaks to the annual joint session of Congress. But Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., says that seating arrangement has become a "negative symbol of the divisions in Congress." In a letter to a bipartisan group of leaders from both the House and the Senate, Udall suggests Republicans and Democrats amongst each other.

"Political differences will always generate a healthy debate, but over time the dialogue has become more hateful and at times violent," Udall writes. "But now the opportunity before us is to bring civility back to politics."

Udall is asking fellow senators from both parties to sign on the letter in the hopes it will lead to a bipartisan mixing bowl on the House floor during the speech. He decries the traditional scene when half the chamber stands and cheers the president on certain issues while the other side solemnly sits.

"The choreographed standing and clapping of one side of the room - while the other side sits - is unbecoming of a serious institution," Udall writes. "And the message that it sends is that even on a night when the President is addressing the entire nation, we in Congress cannot sit as one, but must be divided as two."

The senator argues that a bipartisan cross section of lawmakers would be a better representation of the nation.

"We hope that as the nation watches, Democrats and Republicans will reflect the interspersed character of America itself."