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Congress: Prom night

NBC’s Ken Strickland notes that prom night comes to Congress as member scurry to find bipartisan dates for the president's State of the Union address. In a news conference this morning, the four members leading the push for bipartisan seating will make the case that their largely symbolic effort "can help shape the tone in our broader political debate." Driving the issue are Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R) and Mark Udall (D), along with Reps. Heath Shuler (D) and Paul Gosar (R). The latest announcements of "who's-taking-who" on the Senate side include Murkowski & Mikulski; Warner & Chambliss, Rockefeller & Hutchison; and Coons & Boozman.

Roll Call: “As Members of Congress scramble to find opposite-party seating partners for the State of the Union address, the scene inside the House chamber tonight could look like a giant speed-dating event.”

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) is having a hard time finding a date and took his laments to Twitter… “So I don't have a date to SOTU. Oh, how it is to be the ugly conservative. I see Rep. Issa is ‘going with’ Rep. Towns. Towns was choice 1.” And: “If I sit with a RINO, does that count? Better not get stuck with Rep Weiner! Perhaps the First Lady needs a date?”

Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) offered Chaffetz a seat with the neighboring Colorado bipartisan coalition. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) is going to be himself. He Tweeted: “I'll be sitting on the GOP side of the aisle for the SOTU.  But ill be standing and clapping mostly.”

But Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) channeled his inner Admiral Ackbar. "I believe firmly that it is a trap and a ruse that the Democrats are proposing," Broun said last week. "They don't want civility, they want silence from the Republicans. And sitting together being kissy kissy is just another way to silence Republicans and also to show, to keep the American people from seeing how few of them there are in the U.S. House now."

A bipartisan effort to strike a narrow tax provision from the health care law regains momentum today, NBC’s Strickland reports. At issue is a reporting requirement tucked into the law that mandates businesses submit IRS tax form 1099 for every vendor it plays more than $600. (It was designed to prevent vendors from underreporting income to the IRS while simultaneously offsetting the cost of the health care law. Instead, opponents say, it will create a paperwork nightmare for small businesses and the IRS.) GOP Sen. Mike Johanns holds a conference call this morning (with Dem Sen. Joe Manchin) to reintroduce a bill he offered last year to repeal "1099." And Democrat Max Baucus will also introduce his own version today with several cosponsors.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) criticized Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for not reaching out more and praised Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD).

First, health care, then abortion, now a gay marriage ban in DC. That’s the latest from House Republicans. “House conservatives say they will pursue legislation that would ban gay marriage in the nation’s capital. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee (RSC), told The Hill that he will push for a vote on the controversial issue in the 112th Congress. The RSC has 175 members.”