President Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union address Tuesday night, focusing on job creation, bipartisanship, and controlling government spending.
His speech follows a tragic shooting in Tucson, Arizona in which six people were killed and a congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords, was seriously injured.
During his address, Obama called for increased spending on education to stimulate job growth, better transportation infrastructure, and more research in the fields of engineering and technology to keep America competitive.
But he also called for spending cuts and the elimination of anonymous earmarks.
In the spirit of civility and bipartisanship, a delegation of representatives from upstate New York sat together during Obama's speech Tuesday night.
That delegation included Democrat Bill Owens, who represents New York's 23rd Congressional District, and Republican Chris Gibson, who represents New York's 20th Congressional District.
The two men were joined by fellow representatives Brian Higgins, Chris Lee, Paul Tonko, Tom Reed, Ann Marie Buerkle, and Richard Hanna.
Owens - who belongs to the House's Center Aisle Caucus - said the mixed seating was a symbolic gesture, but one he believes could set a positive tone in the coming weeks
"I believe Congress has an historic opportunity to come together and work for what is best for New York and the rest of the nation," he said.
Speaking to the president's address, Owens says Obama laid out a great theme for the year ahead.
"We need to move together to the center to solve the problems that face us as a nation," he said.
His Republican colleague, Chris Gibson, agreed with Obama that Republicans and Democrats need to come together to create jobs, restore fiscal responsibility, and move toward a balanced budget.
"These overarching objectives are central to guiding my mission here in Congress as I believe they are fundamental to ensuring we protect our cherished way of life," Gibson said, noting that he's willing to work with anyone, regardless of party affiliation.
But Gibson says bipartisanship can't stand in the way of some tough choices he believes need to be made immediately.
On Wednesday, House Republicans introduced their own version of a spending freeze, after Obama called for a five-year hold on non-security related spending.
Gibson says the country needs more than rhetoric to meet the challenges it faces.
"I remain hopeful that we can again come together to ensure our best days are still in front of us," he said.
Meanwhile, New York's junior senator, Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, called Obama's 2011 agenda a - quote - "bold vision."
"I firmly believe that Congress is capable of putting politics aside and coming together to forge solutions," she said.
Senator Charles Schumer lauded Obama's message, but stressed that cutting spending from programs that - quote - "preserve the American dream" is a bad idea.