Bipartisan Seating

Make Congress Work

The No Labels Action Plan to Change the Rules and Fix What's Broken


10 Bipartisan Seating

The Problem

Prior to President Obama's 2011 State of the Union speech, some members of Congress agreed to leave their partisan encampments and sit next to someone from the other party during the address. The fact that this was considered unusual and even exceptional speaks volumes about the low bar that's been set for cooperation in Congress.

More often than not, seating in Congress resembles boys and girls at a middle school dance, with each side keeping an (un)comfortable distance from one another. Even the seating on House and Senate committees – which are supposed to carry out the business of government and not the business of parties – usually has Democrats and Republicans on opposite sides.

The No Labels Solution

It's time to curb the cliques in Congress. At all joint meetings or sessions of Congress, each member should be seated next to at least one member of the other party. On committees and subcommittees, seating also would be arranged in an alternating bipartisan way (one member would be seated next to at least one member of the other party) by agreement between the chair and ranking member. One option would be to arrange bipartisan seating in order of seniority.

This proposal can be imposed by House or Senate leadership.


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