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Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Bipartisan spirit takes over one congressional committee, at least in terms of seating
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- You could call it the Washington equivalent of boy-girl-boy-girl seating.

In a bow to bipartisanship, Sen. Joe Lieberman, D-Connecticut, Wednesday unveiled a new seating scheme for meetings of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

From this point forward, committee members will be seated Democrat-Republican-Democrat-Republican, Lieberman said. Previously, Democrats were seated on one side, Republicans on the other.

Lieberman, who together with the committee's ranking member, Republican Susan Collins of Maine, has been known of fostering bipartisan relationships on the committee, said he was making the change at the suggestion of freshman Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, and after hearing from several senators about "the unfortunate extent to which partisanship interferes with the people's business getting done."

The seating change carries forward "the spirit that has guided" the committee, Lieberman said. It is "done with some seriousness, although not wanting to overstate the significance of this."

McCaskill said she was "gleeful and excited by the change," noting how Senate traditions die hard.

"It was as if lightning had struck the building and the glass in the panes were shaking," she said of news of the new seating arrangement.

-- CNN's Mike Ahlers
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