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Posted at 2:50 PM ET, 01/25/2011

Area members get in on the bipartisan seating act for State of the Union

By Ben Pershing

The bipartisanship bug has infected the Washington-area congressional delegation, as local lawmakers are scrambling to find seatmates from across the aisle for Tuesday night's State of the Union address.

Like their colleagues around the country, members from Maryland, Virginia and the District are eager to sit with the opposing party to convey the idea that they're willing to work together. But some members have had more luck than others finding friends.

Which lawmaker proved to be the most popular? Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.), of course, who will be sitting with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) and Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.). "I look forward to sitting between two lovely ladies," Bartlett said.

Pelosi's plans with Bartlett meant she was unable to accept a similar offer from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.).

Elsewhere in Maryland, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D) said Tuesday he and some of his fellow Democratic leaders planned to sit with Republican leaders, though the details have yet to be released.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) is still looking for a seatmate, since his opposite number atop the Budget Committee -- Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.) -- will be busy preparing to deliver the official Republican response to Obama's speech. Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) will be sitting with fellow members of the Congressional women's softball team, a bipartisan group.

Did Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) deliberately seek out a member with a similar name? Mikulski will be next to Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) will be seated with a pair of Republicans -- Sens. Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Roger Wicker (Miss.).

In Virginia, Sen. Mark Warner (D) will be sitting with Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.). The two men have joined forces to lead a bipartisan effort to attack the budget deficit. As of midday Tuesday, Sen. James Webb (D-Va.) did not know with whom he would be sitting.

Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-Va.) plans to sit with freshman GOP Rep. Glenn Thompson (Pa.). Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) accepted an invitation to join Rep. David Wu (D-Ore.). And Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.) just plans to grab the best seat he can find on either side of the aisle, his office says.

In many states, lawmakers are choosing to sit with fellow delegation members from across the aisle. That's a problem for Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), the only member of Congress from the District. (In case you haven't heard, D.C. is not a state and does not have any senators). So while she's tried to find a seatmate, Norton spokeswoman Kim Atterbury said "it is doubtful that she will find a lone or lonely Republican that will leave his state and pair with the District."

By Ben Pershing  | January 25, 2011; 2:50 PM ET
Categories:  Ben Pershing  
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