Baltimore (CNN) – The No. 3 House Republican endorsed the suggestion Friday that Democrats and Republicans sit side-by-side at the president's State of the Union address later this month.
"I like the idea," House Republican Whip Kevin McCarthy told reporters. McCarthy did not say he or other GOP leaders were instructing Republican rank and file to seek out seats on the House floor next to Democrats.
The California Republican noted that there's no assigned seating on the floor, saying "people can always sit by one another."
But when asked by CNN if he planned to sit next to a Democrat for the speech in the House chamber, McCarthy said he has a good rapport with the House Democratic Whip, telling reporters, "Steny Hoyer and I try to talk quite often. I would enjoy sitting next to him."
McCarthy pointed to House Speaker John Boehner's recent remarks that the shooting last week of Arizona Democratic Rep. Gabby Giffords was something that touched all members of Congress.
"He said one attack on one of us is an attack on all who serve. And I think that, that comment set a tone to what that House looks like," McCarthy said.
McCarthy said a show of bipartisanship at the high profile annual prime-time speech was something members would do on their own without some formal directive. "I think you're going to find that people are willing to do it and wanting to do it and not because someone's out telling them to do it."
McCarthy's comments came as House Republicans met at a retreat in Baltimore to talk about their priorities, including next week's planned vote to repeal health care law.