In anticipation of the president's address, members of Congress are saving good seats in the House chamber. (Photo Credit: Getty Images/File)
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Members of Congress haven't camped out for hours in the House chamber to save prime seats like they did for President Obama's first joint address back in February, but several did come to the chamber early Wednesday morning to put place cards in prime center aisle seats to reserve them for tonight. Lawmakers in these seats are positioned to greet the President as he enters and possibly shake his hand or give him a slap on the back in front of network TV cameras.
According to a congressional source who arrived in the House chamber for preparations early this morning, Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick had already placed a marker saving a prime seat about halfway down the aisle on the Democratic side. Fellow Democrat Eliot Engel, who camped out in February for hours to get his aisle seat, arrived on the floor around 8:30 am this morning and put a marker on the seat just below Kilpatrick's.
This source also tells CNN that Democratic Reps. Laura Richardson, Jesse Jackson Jr., Elijah Cummings, and Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee reserved spots on the aisle on the Democratic side of the chamber this afternoon. Reps. Emanuel Cleaver, John Salazar, and Dale Kildee saved seats just one in from the aisle.
In a change to the unofficial protocol to past Presidential joint addresses, some Democrats actually put markers on aisle seats on the Republican side of the chamber, which is on the president's right as he heads down the center aisle. Traditionally, Democrats sit on one side of the chamber for major speeches, and Republicans sit on the other. Democrats Yvette Clark, Joe Baca, and Al Green reserved seats on the aisle on the GOP side. Republican Reps. Tim Murphy, John Sullivan, and Cliff Stearns have also reserved seats on the GOP side of the aisle.