Tuesday January 17, 2012 | 04:00 PM

It's a movement that began last year and seems to be in fashion again this year amid continuing partisan sniping and gridlock on Capitol Hill: bipartisan seating when President Obama delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night.

Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, said this afternoon she will sit with Sen. Mark Begich, D-Ak. They are the top Republican and chairman, respectively, of the Senate Commerce Committee's subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, will sit next to Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn. That's another committee pairing. Lieberman chairs the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and Collins is the top Republican.

Rep. Mike Michaud, D-2nd District, has made a commitment to join the bipartisan seating movement, too, but doesn't have a seat mate yet. No word yet from Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District.

The bipartisan seating movement happened last year after the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Az. One of the groups pushing it again this year is No Labels, a group of Republicans, Democrats and independents that says lawmakers must do a better job cooperating in forging legislation and getting things done.

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Kevin Miller is Washington bureau chief for the Portland Press Herald and MaineToday Media. He has worked as a journalist in Maine for 6 ½ years, covering the environment, politics and the State House. Before arriving in Maine, he wrote about politics, government and education for newspapers in Virginia and Maryland.
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