Senate committee takes a seat against partisanship

Only an Independent senator as chief could put Democrats and Republicans shoulder to shoulder.

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) told panel members in a letter that they will no longer sit on opposite sides of the chamber. Instead, Republicans and Democrats will cozy up next to one another in a spirit of nonpartisanship.

“In the last election, the voters said they were sick of the partisanship that produces gridlock,” Lieberman and Ranking Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said in a joint statement March 9.

Lieberman’s letter included a seating chart. It puts the second longest-serving senator, John Warner (R-Va.), next to first-term Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who came up with the idea, according to the letter.

“They want us to work together and get things done,” Lieberman and Collins said. "So, as a start, instead of sitting on opposite sides of the room like a house divided, we want the American people to see us sitting side by side as our committee members work together to make our nation more secure and our government more efficient.”

The new arrangement starts with today’s committee hearing, titled “The Threat of Islamic Radicalization to the Homeland.”

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