January 11, 2012

Manchin Wants Bipartisan Seating | West Virginia MetroNews

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin wants to shake things up in Congress.

He sent out a letter to the President and Congressional leadership asking them to consider a more non-partisan seating arraignment in committee meetings and monthly bi-partisan caucuses.

Manchin, in Charleston on Tuesday, says he's tired of the man-made walls that have been created in Washington that keep Republicans and Democrats divided both figuratively and literally.

For example, he says all committee meetings should be open seating. Currently Republicans sit on one side of the room, Democrats on the other.

Manchin calls that counter-productive.

"If you want to be able to sit next to a Republican, you should be able to to talk about issues and see if you can come to an agreement on very important pieces of legislation."

Manchin says that's hard to do with two large tables and floor space separating the parties.

He believes the average American is tired of the in-fighting and wants to see Congress start getting along. A new seating arraignment could be the first step.

"It basically sends a strong signal to the people of America that we can not only work together but we can start by sitting together and sharing that type of camaraderie."

Some Republicans and Democrats tried a similar move in 2011 during a big night in Washington.

"Last year you kind of saw us mingle and break the tradition of Democrats on one side and Republicans on the other during the State of the Union speech. I would recommend again that we continue that."

Manchin says another idea to thaw things out in Washington is to get everyone together in a room for more informal give and take sessions.

"Hold bi-partisan caucuses so that we can meet together. The president and the leaders can tell us how they intend to work on the critical issues we have."

Manchin admits it may sound far fetched. But he says Americans want to see government start working together again in Washington. And breaking down the barriers with some close encounters might just do the trick.