WASHINGTON Inspired by an idea from Sen. Mark Udall, Republicans and Democrats in Colorados seven-member House delegation plan to sit together during next weeks State of the Union address to demonstrate that the state is more important than politics.
Last week, Udall wrote an open letter to all 535 members of the House and Senate suggesting that on Tuesday they sit together in mixed political company rather than separate sides of the room as they traditionally do during the presidents speech to a joint session of Congress.
In eight days, 58 senators and representatives from both parties have signed on to the plan.
Elected officials can sit wherever they want during the State of the Union speech.
Last year, Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., said he sat with the Republicans, just because thats the direction he turned when he entered the chamber.
I think its a great idea, Polis said Thursday, pointing out, however, that most of the incivility is outside the Capitol, not within it. Were always pretty civil in here.
The idea for everyone to follow Udalls plan came from Rep. Diana DeGette. The Denver Democrat said it sends a powerful message that we are committed to working together on behalf of the people of Colorado.
Republican members of the delegation went along with it, but were quick to point out that jobs and the economy are what voters really care about.
I look forward to sitting with the dean of our delegation, Diana DeGette, who has always provided adult supervision to make sure that we are never uncivil to one another, Rep. Mike Coffman, a Republican, said, with a laugh. Now that we have the seating arrangements ironed out, we can get back to the real task at hand, which is getting our economy back on the right track.
Republican Rep. Cory Gardner said hes happy to sit wherever, but families across America, who are watching the State of the Union from home, care less about where we sit and more about the future of our country.
Though some derided Udalls letter as a symbolic gimmick some Capitol Hill bloggers called it the kumbaya letter the idea went viral in light of the national political civility discussions after the Jan. 8 shooting rampage in Tucson that left six people dead and Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords seriously injured.
Udall, a Democrat, and Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski who has joined him as co-leader of the effort will hold a news conference Tuesday before the State of the Union to address the issue.