Lots of lawmakers carefully stake out their positions in the House chamber for the president’s annual State of the Union address, but two senators apparently didn’t — and found themselves in a potentially awkward tableau.
New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez, whose help for a political donor is under review by the Senate Select Committe on Ethics, ended up next to the panel’s chairman, California Senator Barbara Boxer, as President Barack Obama was about to begin delivering his speech. The two Democrats looked uncomfortable, and before they sat down Boxer moved one seat away. She beckoned Senator Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat, to take the vacant spot between her and Menendez.
Before Boxer arrived in the chamber, Menendez — the new chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — had found himself standing alone in front of the row of empty seats. He passed the time by frequently checking his watch.
UPDATE: The two didn’t totally avoid each other. When Obama in his speech touted their bill that, in his words, “would give every responsible homeowner in America” the chance to refinance their home mortgages, Boxer and Menendez gave each other a high-five.
“What we we waiting for? Take a vote and send me that bill,” Obama said.