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Lawmakers To Convey Bipartisanship By Sitting With Political Opponents

January 25, 2011 by  

Lawmakers to convey bipartisanship by sitting with political opponentsIn the days leading up to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address, dozens of lawmakers pledged to cross the aisle and sit with members of their rival political party during Tuesday's speech.

In a gesture that aimed to show civility and camaraderie following the Jan. 8 shooting in Tucson, Ariz., which left Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) fighting for her life, Democratic and Republican legislators are pairing up to sit next to each other for the President's speech. During his Jan. 23 appearance on CBS' Face the Nation, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) confirmed that he would sit next to Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).

"It's true it's symbolic, but let's not forget [that] oftentimes in history, symbols influence reality," Schumer told the media outlet.

However, not all leaders in Congress were planning to take part in mixed seating. On FOX News Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that he was planning to sit on the Republican side of the aisle, along with his fellow GOP leaders. He added that the American people were more interested in bipartisanship during the legislative process than in their seating arrangements during a speech.

On Face the Nation, Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) said that the bipartisan seating would likely reduce the "cheerleading" that typically occurs during State of the Union addresses. McCain said that recurring standing ovations detract from the speech, and he hoped that the mixed seating would cut back on those interruptions.

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