Republican leader backs SOTU seat mix up
January 14th, 2011
01:03 PM ET
11 years ago

Republican leader backs SOTU seat mix up

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.

soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Kenneth of Minneapolis

    Radio and TV pundits dread the idea of our elected officials working together.....Pundits only purpose is to create division.

    January 14, 2011 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  2. Larry - Hazleton, Pa

    I wonder how many "you lie" comments will come from the repub side this year.

    January 14, 2011 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    Who needs a fiddle when you can play musical chairs while Rome burns?

    What's most disturbing about it all is that, despite it being a fairly innocuous gesture with legitimately nice sentiment behind it, it appears that there still needs to be some pantwetting over it. Why? Well, let's face it, some of the GOPers want it to be very clear that they only gave the POTUS applause once or twice and don't want their partisan seatedness to be buried by a Dem on either or both sides of them standing up. Well, that and because they don't want their Dem colleagues to know that they all smell like they had bourbon for lunch lol

    January 14, 2011 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  4. Tulsa

    Good. For the sake of our country, act like adults and at least TRY and be civil during the state of the union address. The President talked of those things that unite us outweighing those that divide us.
    This is true. We all love our Country.We all believe in freedom and justice. We all believe in equality before the law and the rule of law in a free society. We all believe in free speech, freedom of religion and expression. We believe in the "great experiment" that is our Nation.
    Please take ONE DAY and act on THOSE unifying beliefs. As a Nation and a people we desparately need to hear and see unity and civil discourse.
    When legislation is taken up again in Congress, I have only one thing to ask from both sides. DO NOT LIE. If you diagree, FINE!!!! argue your point, but DO NOT LIE to get your way.

    January 14, 2011 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  5. NVa Native

    Make them sit in aphabetical order and be done with it, enough of the boys club crap.

    January 14, 2011 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  6. moderateray

    THIS is the Kevin McCarthy I voted for. This is admittedly a small and cosmetic gesture but IMO a step in the right direction.

    January 14, 2011 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  7. Al-NY,NY

    You're in trouble now, McCarthy. Your "leader" the cry-baby isn't making such comments, meaning he isn't in favor of it. He knows that ANY sign of working (or dealing) with the Democrats invites the typical scorn, derision, and "RINO" label from the red-meat zealots. BTW I wonder if the GOP's hero Joe Wilson "you lie" is gonna chime in again or is some other undiginified p#g gonna shout something?

    January 14, 2011 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  8. Tish

    That would be good if they all did that. A true show of support and bipartisan. I've always felt that we can walk hand in hand and not see eye to eye

    January 14, 2011 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  9. S. In California

    I personally don't care where they sit as long as they are CIVIL to each other and treat our president with respect instead of shouting "you lie" and acting like extremists. As much as I support our president, I still think this is HIS fault for letting things get out of control as they are. He should have had Wilson removed from the chambers and reprimanded for his behavior. Instead, he unleashed the idea that it is okay to disrespect me ANYTIME and ANYWHERE you want because I am a constitutional scholar. You can take that philosophy only so far and then it explodes in your face. I really think he needs to step up his leadership role.

    January 14, 2011 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  10. Amy

    It would be nice to see the Senators and Representatives from each state sitting together, regardless of party. It might remind them that their job is to represent the citizens of their respective states, not make power grabs or create media sound bites.

    January 14, 2011 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  11. Hangar 13

    Interesting how Democrats always want to get along and all be equals when they're in the minority, but it's "screw you, we won" when they have a majority. Meanwhile, gas is above $3 a gallon, laid-off orkers continue to flock to the unemployment line, two wars rage on with no apparent goal, and Ticker continues to obsess over Sarah Palin. No wonder Fox is mopping the floor with them, I only look at CNN occasionally for comic relief.

    January 14, 2011 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  12. T

    So......they still going to have attitude......this is a smoke screen.....they are so willing.......keep you eyes on them.....because they don't care about the middle class........

    January 14, 2011 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  13. civility is cool

    They should do this. If nothing else it will present a picture of some unity whether the picture is true or not. Also, it's much harder for someone to yell "liar" when they're not safely cocooned with their own.

    January 14, 2011 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  14. mm

    I really want them to do it and will be very disappointed if it doesn't happen.

    January 14, 2011 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  15. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Have them seated by state; older the state the closer to the front or isle. We could have them sit by "Congressional class" with the oldest class sitting in the front.

    January 14, 2011 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  16. Jack

    Why not just have a lottery for seats. Mix and match. You sit where the ticket you drew says to sit. This only wanting to sit with you own kind–is kind of juvenile. You are all adults, now act like it.

    January 14, 2011 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  17. John Murphy

    Great may not be easy, and appear to be "symbolic", but it's a first step in developing a more civil and bipartisan working relationship. We're tired of the bickering !!!

    January 14, 2011 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  18. anna

    that is really refreshing! finally.

    January 14, 2011 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  19. rusty155

    Republicans and Democrats sit side by side at the President state of the union address Is the first test. Now the second test Is If you both can start working together too getting think done for American people. You know the one you are working for. I don't about with party that get credit for It ,just make thing better In American .

    January 14, 2011 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  20. T'sah from Virginia

    Why do the members have to agree with this – one by one – just DO IT!!!

    January 14, 2011 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |