I’m talking to members of Congress. Our leadership said you do whatever you want to do. If you wanna sit with the Democrats, you can. If you wanna sit with Republicans, that you can.

We’re going to have a conference next week and I’m gonna bring that up there. I already believe very firmly that it is a trap and a ruse that Democrats are proposing.

They don’t want civility. They want silence from the Republicans. And the sitting together being kissy-kissy is just another way to try to silence Republicans, and also to show — to keep the American people from seeing how few of them there are in the U.S. House now.

Then when people stand up to — what the Democrats are going to be doing when Barack Obama spews out all his venom, then, um, if they’re scattered throughout all the Republicans, then it won’t be as noticeable as if we’re sitting apart.

So it is a ruse and I’m not in favor of it and I’m talking about it and I hope other members of the Republican conference in the House will not take the bait.

Georgia Republican Congressman Paul Broun

Pelosi Turns Down Offer To Sit with Cantor at Speech


Senate Republican “The Kissy Six”

Lisa Murkowski (Alaska)
John McCain (Ariz.)
Olympia Snowe (Maine)
Susan Collins (Maine)
Kelly Ayotte (N.H.)
Scott Brown (Mass.)

Republican House “The Friendly Five”

Sue Myrick (N.C.)
Phil Gingrey (Ga.)
Paul Gosar (Ariz.)
Charlie Bass (N.H.)
Tom Petri (Wis.)

Sixty lawmakers back bipartisan State of the Union seating plan

The State of the Union is an annual address presented by the President of the United States to the United States Congress. The address not only reports on the condition of the nation but also allows the president to outline his legislative agenda (for which he needs the cooperation of Congress) and his national priorities.

The practice arises from a command given to the president in the Constitution of the United States:

He shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient. — Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution

By tradition, the President makes this report annually.

While not required to be a speech, every president since Woodrow Wilson has made the State of the Union report as a speech delivered before a joint session of Congress. Before that time, most presidents delivered the State of the Union as a written report.

Since Wilson, the State of the Union is given typically each January before a joint session of the United States Congress and is held in the House of Representatives chamber of the United States Capitol.

George Washington gave the first State of the Union address on January 8, 1790 in New York City, then the provisional U.S. capital. In 1801, Thomas Jefferson discontinued the practice of delivering the address in person, regarding it as too monarchical (similar to the Speech from the Throne).

Instead, the address was written and then sent to Congress to be read by a clerk until 1913 when Woodrow Wilson re-established the practice despite some initial controversy. However, there have been exceptions to this rule. Presidents during the latter half of the 20th century have sent written State of the Union addresses. The last President to do this was Jimmy Carter in 1981.

For many years, the speech was referred to as “the President’s Annual Message to Congress”. The actual term “State of the Union” first emerged in 1934 when Franklin D. Roosevelt used the phrase, becoming its generally accepted name since 1947

Prior to 1934, the annual message was delivered at the end of the calendar year, in December. The ratification of the 20th Amendment on January 23, 1933 changed the opening of Congress from early March to early January, affecting the delivery of the annual message.

Since 1934, the message or address has been delivered to Congress in January or February. Today, the speech is typically delivered on the last Wednesday in January, although there is no such provision written in law, and it varies from year to year. In 2008, the speech was given on the last Monday of January.

The Twentieth Amendment also established January 20 as the beginning of the presidential term. In years when a new president is inaugurated, the outgoing president may deliver a final State of the Union message, but none has done so since Jimmy Carter sent a written message in 1981. In 1953 and 1961, Congress received both a written State of the Union message from the outgoing president and a separate State of the Union speech by the incoming president.

Since 1989, in recognition that the responsibility of reporting the State of the Union formally belongs to the president who held office during the past year, newly inaugurated Presidents have not officially called their first speech before Congress a “State of the Union” message.

Calvin Coolidge‘s 1923 speech was the first to be broadcast on radio. Harry S. Truman‘s 1947 address was the first to be broadcast on television. Lyndon B. Johnson‘s address in 1965 was the first delivered in the evening. Ronald Reagan was the only president to have postponed his State of the Union Address.

On January 28, 1986, he planned to give his address, but after learning of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, he postponed it for a week and addressed the nation on the day’s events. This was the only time that the State of the Union address had to be postponed. Bill Clinton’s 1997 address was the first broadcast available live on the World Wide Web.

Georgia’s congressional delegation pulls up a seat to State of the Union speech

AJC – By Bob Keefe

Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson plans to sit with Democrat Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire.

Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss expects to be next to Sen. Mark Warner, the Democrat from Virginia. Another Georgia GOPer, Rep. Phil Gingrey of Marietta, plans to sit beside two Democrats: his old friend Rep. Gene Green of Texas and Georgia Rep. David Scott.  Democratic Rep. John Lewis of Atlanta said he plans to sit with Republicans, although as of Monday he wasn’t exactly sure whom he would sit with.

As Congress tries to put forward a less-partisan, more congenial face at Tuesday’s State of the Union address, some of Georgia’s lawmakers are playing along.

Others are not.

“I … believe very firmly that it is a trap and a ruse that Democrats are proposing,” Republican Rep. Paul Broun of Athens said on a radio show when asked about plans for the symbolic sit-together some Democrats and Republicans are planning for the speech.

“(Democrats) want silence from Republicans … and sitting together being kissy-kissy is just another way to try to silence Republicans,” Broun said on conservative radio commentator Scott Hennen’s show last week. Broun went on to suggest that Democrats were also trying to downplay their reduced numbers in Congress by spreading out and sitting with Republicans…

Republican Chambliss, for instance, is working closely with Warner on budget overhaul proposals in the Senate.

Isakson reached out to Shaheen and asked if she wanted to sit with him after the New Hampshire Democrat suggested interest in co-sponsoring a bill that would convert the federal budget to a biennial budget that would last for two years instead of one. Isakson plans to introduce his legislation later this week.

Two Georgians on either side of the aisle — Republican Rep. Jack Kingston of Savannah and Democrat Sanford Bishop of Albany, plan to sit side by side, according to Kingston’s office.

Others are approaching seating plans nonchalantly.

“No, I don’t have a (Democratic) date and I haven’t tried to make a date,” said Republican Rep. Lynn Westmoreland of Coweta County. “I’ll be sitting on the majority side.”

Westmoreland said he didn’t agree with Broun’s assessment that Democrats had ulterior motives, but he doubted the effectiveness of the idea…

WaPo – By Eva Rodriguez

Sam Alito won’t be there, but will John Roberts?

I’m talking, of course, of the president’s State of the Union Address and the question of whether Republican Supreme Court appointees will attend.

You’ll recall that the speech raised a stink last year when President Obama criticized the Supreme Court for its Citizens United decision, describing the 5-4 ruling as having thrown out a century’s worth of laws restricting corporations’ campaign contributions.

Obama’s description was imprecise, at best; that prompted Justice Alito to shake his head and mouth the words “not true.” This relatively mild exchange prompted much angst — from those who thought Obama breached decorum by wagging a finger at the captive justices, as well as those who thought Alito’s reaction was inappropriately political.

In a speech a couple months later, Chief Justice Roberts recalled the episode as “very troubling” and wondered whether the justices should attend an event that had devolved into a “political pep rally.”

Alito, a Bush II appointee, has already made his choice: He is in Hawaii this week. It’s not clear whether Washington’s frigid temperatures or frosty political climate convinced him to seek shelter in more hospitable corners.

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who attended last year’s speech, has not announced his plans. The other two Republican appointees on the court — Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas — typically don’t grace the president with their presence…

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