Murkowski: “To Heck With Politics,” Leads Call for Permanent End to Party Seating at State of Union

Senator: “Party Lines Are Not Brick Walls,” Joins Colorado’s Udall in Effort

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Murkowski today joined her colleague Senator Mark Udall of Colorado in suggesting that bipartisan seating at the president’s State of the Union address become a permanent practice.  The Senators pioneered the concept last year and today circulated a letter on Capitol Hill encouraging Senators and Representatives to participate.

“There is a phrase that means a lot to many Alaskans, and that’s ‘The heck with politics, let’s do what’s right for Alaska,’” said Murkowski.  “Senator Udall and I are asking our Senate colleagues to follow suit and do what’s right for America.  Our parties clearly have different ideas of the role of government and approaches for our country’s future, but party lines are not brick walls.  There are opportunities out there for bipartisan collaboration, and we want this to be a step towards better communication between Members.”

Last year, the two Senators teamed up in a call to end the longstanding custom of sitting divided by party during the president’s speech – with lawmakers on one side of the room cheering, while those on the other sit in silence. This year, with Americans increasingly frustrated with the partisanship in Congress, Murkowski and Udall are calling on Congress to change the tradition for good. Beyond that, Murkowski and Udall are also urging colleagues to seek out opportunities and forums to build on potential areas of policy agreements.

“Now more than ever, we have the obligation to show that there is a place for civility on Capitol Hill and that civility can lead to problem-solving.  As we saw last year, bipartisan seating reduced the division we had witnessed for decades at the annual State of the Union address,” the Senators write in their letter.  “We therefore believe that permanent bipartisan seating at the State of the Union address would be one small way to bridge our partisan divide and to encourage Members to find solutions to our nation’s problems.  We started that new tradition in American politics last year.  Let’s now continue that tradition moving forward.”


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