Kirk, Manchin support more bipartisanship in 2012, will attend State of the Union together

Washington, DC – Building on a tradition launched last year by U.S. Senators Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Senators Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) announced that they will be seatmates at the President’s State of the Union address later this month.

“Senator Manchin and I will kick off 2012 with a renewed launch of our weekly bipartisan lunches and inviting both parties to join us in finding common ground on deficit reduction and tax simplification,” Senator Kirk said.

“After spending a year in Congress, it’s clear to me that we must find ways to work together for the good of our country, and I believe that this new tradition demonstrates our commitment to put party and politics aside,” Senator Manchin said. “Senators Udall and Murkowski showed such great leadership on the idea of bipartisan seating last year, and I’m proud to embrace it again this year. I’m so pleased to join my friend Mark Kirk, who I have worked with on a number of issues and who has been a strong partner in working to unite our colleagues and end the terrible divisions in Washington.”

Senators Mark Udall and Lisa Murkowski, who led last year’s effort for bipartisan seating during the President’s speech, praised Senators Kirk and Manchin for again embracing the new tradition.

“The climate in Washington, D.C., would be better if we reminded ourselves more often that we play for the red, white and blue team, not the red or the blue team,” Senator Udall said. “Last year, when Senator Murkowski and I called on our colleagues to put aside partisanship and sit together during the State of the Union address, the idea resonated with people across the country. This year, we’re thrilled to work with Senators Kirk, Manchin and others to again change the tone in Congress.  This new call to make bipartisan seating a permanent tradition on Capitol Hill is one way we can move forward and ensure the State of the Union is more than just a run-of-the-mill sporting event.”

“Our parties clearly have different ideas of the role of government and approaches for our country’s future, but party lines are not brick walls,” said Senator Murkowski. “Senator Udall and I are happy to have Senators Kirk and Manchin join us in making the point that there are opportunities out there for bipartisan collaboration, and small steps like this can lead to better communication between Members.”

The President’s State of the Union address will be held Jan. 24.