Democratic Colorado Sen. Mark Udall today echoed the sentiments of President Barack Obama’s emotional memorial speech in Tucson, urging both houses of Congress to cross the aisles and sit together during Obama’s upcoming State of the Union address.
Udall sent a letter to his colleagues in both the U.S. House and Senate asking them to break with the long tradition of partisan division during the speech, which is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 25. He said the split, with one party applauding and the other remaining silent, has come to symbolize the extreme partisanship of the last several years.
“The president’s State of the Union address sets the agenda for the year – the challenges and opportunities we face,” Udall said in a release. “But what Americans see when they watch it on TV is a Congress that is bitterly divided by party.
“It sets a negative tone that only perpetuates the narrative that Congress cannot – and will not – come together for the good of the country we all love. Beyond custom, there is no rule or reason that on this night we should emphasize divided government, separated by party, instead of being seen united as a country.”
Obama, speaking to the nation and a packed house at the University of Arizona Wednesday night, said more unites Americans than divides them, and he expressed his hope for more political unity in the wake of the shooting of Democratic congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson on Saturday. Udall’s letter used almost exactly the same words.
“After serving over a decade in the House and Senate, I know that more unites us than divides us, and now – more than ever – we need to find ways to dial down the political rhetoric and set a positive example for all Americans,” Udall said.
“Our country has been talking about changing the way Washington works, and now it’s time to take action by crossing the aisle and sitting together. It’s a simple step, but an important one that will go a long way in bridging our political divide. So I’m asking my colleagues to join me in sitting side-by-side in a symbolic gesture that reflects the diversity in the communities we represent.”