WASHINGTON--Illinois House members Luis Gutierrez, a Democrat, and Judy Biggert, a Republican, will sit together--on the GOP side of the House chamber--when President Obama delivers his State of the Union address on Tuesday, part of a civility movement gaining wind in the wake of the Tucson shootings that wounded Rep. Gabby Giffords.
Biggert and Gutierrez are both members of the Financial Services Committee; Biggert is the new chairman and Gutierrez is the new ranking Democrat on the panel's Subcommittee on Insurance, Housing and Community Opportunity.
Giffords also served on the committee.
"Sitting side-by-side may not lead to a major shift in policy, but it's important to show that Members of Congress - like the American people - will always stand together in the face of adversity," Biggert said.
Gutierrez said "we really do have friends on the Republican side of the aisle" and that the attempt to lower the political rhetoric is "a kind of salute to Giffords."
As I reported on Thursday, the Illinois senators, Dick Durbin, a Democrat, and Mark Kirk, a Republican will sit together.
So will Illinois House members Dan Lipinski, a Democrat and Bob Dold, a Republican.
Said Lipinski, "The American people want to see partisan bickering replaced with productive debate and problem-solving. Democrats and Republicans will always have their differences, but we must find ways to work together for the good of the country. I reached out to Rep. Dold in the hope that a display of unity at the State of the Union address will help change the tone in Washington and lead to bipartisan solutions to important problems."