Hoyer Endorses GOPers And Dems Sitting Together At State Of The Union

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In what appears to be the first official reaction from a member of the Democratic leadership, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) has now endorsed the call by Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) that members of both parties sit together at the upcoming State of the Union address, rather than separate into the Democratic and Republican aisles as they normally do.

“A gesture like this won’t make partisanship disappear, nor should it — democracy is built on strong disagreements between the parties,” Hoyer said in a statement. “But this gesture, which was first suggested by the independent group Third Way and supported by Senator Mark Udall, should help end the political theater of repeatedly seeing one side of the aisle rise in applause, as the other sits still.”

Late Update: As Greg Sargent reported today, Chuck Schumer has also endorsed the idea over on the Senate side.

WASHINGTON, DC – Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer released the following statement in support of members of both parties sitting together during the President’s State of the Union address:

“Last night, President Obama issued an inspiring call for all Americans to conduct our public debates with more civility and respect for one another, even when we strongly differ on the best course for our nation. I agree, and I believe Congress has a responsibility to set an example of less ugly, less divisive debate. Coming together to hear an address on the state of our union in a few weeks is an especially important moment to recommit ourselves to approaching our public life with the respect and honesty that our serious, shared problems demand.

“I believe that members of both parties can symbolize our common citizenship and common interests by sitting together to hear the president’s remarks, rather than divided across the aisle by party. A gesture like this won’t make partisanship disappear, nor should it — democracy is built on strong disagreements between the parties. But this gesture, which was first suggested by the independent group Third Way and supported by Senator Mark Udall, should help end the political theater of repeatedly seeing one side of the aisle rise in applause, as the other sits still. We must always consider ourselves Americans first, and Democrats or Republicans second. It is my hope that this new tradition can remind us that, no matter what our differences, we all come to Congress with the nation’s best interests at heart.”

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