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Letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker John Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi - Set Aside Partisanship, Sit Together During State of the Union

Letter

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Bipartisan Seating Has Become New Tradition

U.S. Senators Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) renewed their call today for members of Congress to set aside partisanship and sit together -- not divided by party -- during the president's 2014 State of the Union Address. Udall and Murkowski encouraged their colleagues to start the bipartisan seating tradition four years ago and have continued their push each year. They hope that this new tradition, while symbolic, will help set the tone for a more cooperative and bipartisan session of Congress and encourage lawmakers to pursue substantive opportunities to work across the aisle.

Congressmen Ron Barber (D-Ariz.) and Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) joined Udall and Murkowski in their letter to congressional leadership.

"As we enter the second session of the 113th Congress, we are asking our colleagues to once again sit together as representatives of the American people and not just representatives of political parties," the senators and congressmen wrote. "This can -- and should -- be a permanent tradition. Although our political discourse often falls short of what the country expects, we all represent the United States as senators and congressmen. In these historically challenging times for our nation, we share the goal of putting the United States back on the right track and getting Americans back to work."

Udall and Murkowski first worked together to encourage their colleagues to sit together during the State of the Union in 2011. Previously, members of Congress would sit divided by party as they listened to the president's speech.

Dear Majority Leader Reid, Speaker Boehner, and Minority Leaders McConnell and Pelosi:

For the past three years, an overwhelming number of our colleagues in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives have sat interspersed -- across party lines -- at President Obama's annual State of the Union address. Although this gesture has not ended the gridlock on Capitol Hill, we feel it continues to be a step in the right direction, symbolizing the importance of working together across the aisle to solve the common challenges we face in securing a strong future for the United States.

As we enter the second session of the 113th Congress, we are asking our colleagues to once again sit together as representatives of the American people and not just representatives of political parties. This can -- and should -- be a permanent tradition. Although our political discourse often falls short of what the country expects, we all represent the United States as senators and congressmen. In these historically challenging times for our nation, we share the goal of putting the United States back on the right track and getting Americans back to work.

Permanent bipartisan seating at the State of the Union address would be one small way to bridge the divide and to encourage Members to find bipartisan solutions to our nation's problems. Please join us in moving this tradition forward.

With respect,


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