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State of the Union: 'Date Night' on Capitol Hill?

(L-R) Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) talk before President Obama's State of the Union address on Capitol Hill on Jan. 25, 2011. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)(WASHINGTON) -- “Who are you going with?” could soon be heard around Capitol Hill again.

After a year of fierce division on Capitol Hill, this weekend there will be a renewed call for both parties to sit together -- rather than divided by party -- at President Obama's upcoming State of the Union address to at a joint session of Congress.

Last year, in the wake of the shooting of Rep. Gabby Giffords, members of Congress teamed up with a member of the opposite party, sitting together as so-called “dates,” a bipartisanship showing after the Tucson tragedy.

Republicans and Democrats have traditionally sat together en masse on their respective sides of the aisle.  The simple idea was aimed at projecting a greater sense of unity and civility in politics.

After the particularly tense and partisan year that followed, one Senator feels that Congress needs this reminder again this year.  Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., was the first to propose the idea for last year’s event, and this Sunday at the Tucson one-year remembrance ceremony, he will renew the call again.

Udall will call for a permanent end to members sitting divided by parties during all future State of the Union addresses.

A cynical view would be that a politically integrated Senate is designed to mask opposition -- giving the false impression to the viewing public that the speech is being better received than would appear in a politically divided Senate. Traditionally, a president's speech is always enthusiastically applauded by members of his party, while his political opponents tend to sit on his or her hands.  

The State of the Union is Tuesday, January 24.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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