Presidents have delivered the annual State of the Union Address in person to Congress since 1913. The entire Congress, both the House of Representatives and the Senate, is present for the speech. Democrats and Republicans, the two competing parties, often disagree on politics. Consequently, senators and representatives, in general, do not fraternize with the members of the opposite party. The seating pattern for the State of the Union speech demonstrates adherence to this unstated policy.

Official Seating Position

There are two important rules to seating during the State of the Union speech. First, as a joint session of Congress, members of both the House and Senate require seating. Senators, as part of the upper chamber, sit in the front, in a separate section closest to the president. Within their respective sections, senators and representatives sit on a first-come, first-serve basis.


The reality differs a bit from the official protocol. In the majority of cases, the politicians sit among fellow party members. Furthermore, Democrats sit on the left side of the hall, with Republicans on the right. There have been a few attempts to break this party-line seating arrangement over the years.