That ol’ bipartisan feeling

Ready for touchy-feely politics, some bipartisan cooperation? How about at least an appearance of that?

Several members of Congress will sit with members of the opposing party during President Obama’s State of the Union speech tonight. It’s part of an effort to show that the two parties can get along and that’s worth saluting.

How likely it is to occur in this hyper-partisan age we’ll have to see.

One avowed bipartisan politician, Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., will sit with Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama. Johnson is the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee while Shelby is the ranking GOP member.

This will be Johnson’s 24th State of the Union. It would be his 25th if not for his illness. He entered Congress in 1987 but missed the 2007 speech after his brain hemorrhage.

While Johnson wasn’t at the speech, he was saluted by President Bush and his fellow members of Congress gave him a round of applause.

Another member of Congress who will be absent tonight will be recognized by the president. Rep. Gabby Giffords is at a Houston rehab facility but a chair will be reserved for her and she is sure to receive one of the rounds of applause.

Sen. John Thune, R-S.D. will sit with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.

Both are attractive people and some are calling them the Prom King and Queen of the speech.

Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., plans to sit with Rep. Dan Boren, D-Okla.. However, Noem’s spokeman, Joshua Shields, said the scene is so frantic, she might not get to do so.

Speaking of good looks and politics, Noem was named the hottest new member of Congress by a Huffington Post reader poll.

In 2010, Noem defeated Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, who was also often the subject of “news” stories and blogs about her appearance.

Handsome is as handsome does, it’s said, and while we hope bipartisan cooperation becomes a reality, we’re afraid politics will rear its ugly head sooner than later.

South Dakota’s congressional delegation met at Johnson’s office Monday. They discussed issues that will impact the state and how the two Republicans and one Democrat can work together.

Action will speak louder than seating, we’re sure.

Reaction to the State of the Union

Click play above to watch the speech. To see a transcript, click here.

Reaction from Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D.:

Washington, DC—U.S. Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) today released this statement following President Obama’s first State of the Union address this evening:

President Obama’s address tonight gave hope to hardworking American families. I’m pleased it included plans to address our nation’s long-term priorities without losing sight of the struggles happening on Main Street as a result of this recession. I agree with the President when he said that jobs must be our focus this year.

The President’s plans will put our economy on a more stable foundation without huge increases in deficit spending. The mix of tax relief and incentives for small businesses will help create jobs and get our economy back on track. Making college more affordable and helping workers save for retirement will also help ensure that we put Americans on a more secure path for the future.

I was especially pleased to see President Obama strongly endorse a return to PAY-GO. The Administration will submit its annual budget to Congress next week, and we will get our first look at the effects of the President’s proposed budget freeze in discretionary non-military funding. It’s important to remember that seven-eighths of the budget is entitlements or non-discretionary funding. There is no doubt that there is fat to cut from the budget, but we cannot put South Dakota priorities at risk.

We have made real progress in turning this recession around since the President took office a year ago, but much work still lies ahead. I am committed to working with members of both parties to advance policies that keep us moving on the path towards recovery. 

Reaction from Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.:

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator John Thune made the following statement today regarding the President’s State of the Union Address:

“President Obama lived up to his reputation as a great orator and delivered a good speech this evening, but well delivered speeches won’t solve even one of the many problems facing our country. Americans need a clear plan from this President that will create conditions for lasting job growth, pay down the debt, and strengthen national security.

“Despite a worsening economy and rising unemployment, last year President Obama and Congressional Democrats pursued an ideological agenda that was based on growing the size of the federal government and spending astronomical sums of taxpayer money. That was the wrong approach then and it is the wrong approach now, and I hope they are willing to abandon these flawed policies in favor of bipartisan solutions.

“America cannot move forward by racking up record amounts of debt, increasing taxes on small businesses and families, and treating terrorists like common criminals. Republicans stand ready to work with President Obama and Congressional Democrats as long as they are willing to trade rhetoric for action.” 

Reaction from Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D.:

Washington, DC- Rep. Herseth Sandlin released the following statement in response to the President’s State of the Union Address this evening:

"Tonight, the President rightly highlighted the critical need to get spending under control and reduce the national debt, and the importance of meeting the needs of the private sector to achieve sustainable economic growth. These are our obligations to the current generation, and the next.

"I support the President’s proposals to freeze spending but we must do more, including identifying ways to cut government overspending, passing legislation requiring Congress to spend within its means and establishing an independent, bipartisan commission to address our national debt.

“As our country’s economy continues to recover, bipartisan tax relief proposals for the middle class will help South Dakota families struggling to make ends meet. As the Congress and the President begin crafting the budget for the upcoming fiscal year, I hope we will see true progress in restoring fiscal discipline, getting our private sector going and meeting the needs of middle class families."