Lawmakers changing the way they watch the State of the Union because of Trump

  • Lawmakers usually camp out in the same seat for hours every year in order to shake hands with the president when he enters the House chamber for the annual State of the Union address.
  • But many lawmakers who have held the same seats for years will be abandoning their posts for Trump's first official State of the Union.

WASHINGTON — Getting an aisle seat in the House of Representatives' chamber on the day the president of the United States delivers his annual State of the Union address comes with many perks, none more important than getting a quality picture of yourself shaking the commander in chief's hand at the biggest show on Earth.

But scoring such prime real estate comes with a price.

Securing an aisle seat requires the lawmaker to camp out in the old leather-upholstered chairs for several hours in advance of the speech — calling dibs is not allowed.

6 PHOTOS
Memorable State of the Union Moments from the Past
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Memorable State of the Union Moments from the Past

2011 -

It took tragedy to restore civility.

Obama's address came just 17 days after a gunman fired on a congresswoman and her constituents at a gathering in Tucson, Arizona. Six people died and 13 were wounded, including Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head.

(Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images)

2011 -

Images from the House chamber that night were haunting: Lawmakers wearing black-and-white ribbons in memory of the casualties. An empty seat to honor Giffords.

(TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images)

2011 -

And in first lady Michelle Obama's box, the mother, father and brother of Christina Green, a 9-year-old girl killed when she went to meet her congresswoman.

That night lawmakers started a continuing tradition: some Republicans and Democrats now sit together for the big speech, instead of dividing into partisan camps.

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

2012 -

Giffords' bittersweet return was the high point of the next State of the Union.

Frail but smiling, holding colleagues' arms for support as she walked into the chamber, Giffords was greeted with a standing ovation, chants of "Gabby, Gabby, Gabby," and a hug and kisses on the cheek from Obama.

(Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

2014 -

Ronald Reagan started the State of the Union tradition of inviting everyday Americans and telling their inspirational stories.

Last year, a wounded war hero stole the show.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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"The practice of purporting to reserve seats prior to the joint session by placement of placards or personal items will not be allowed," reads a memo regularly read ahead of each joint session. "Chamber Security may remove these items from the seats. Members may reserve their seats only by physical presence following the security sweep of the Chamber."

Lawmakers vying for the aisle seats has been a common practice for decades, pioneered by former Michigan Rep. Dale Kildee.

"People would say, 'Gosh, I saw you shaking hands with the president.' So you had that advantage," Kildee told The Washington Post in 2013.

During President Donald Trump's address to a joint session of Congress last year, which was not technically a State of the Union but had all the bells and whistles of one, Republican Reps. Louie Gohmert and Billy Long staked out their seats more than four hours in advance, patiently waiting for the president to walk down the aisle and greet them with a handshake.

Also during last year's address to the joint session, GOP Rep. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina asked Trump to autograph an item for her on his way out of the speech.

But the polarizing presidency of Donald Trump is now upending the "aisle hog" caucus, leading some of the Democratic lawmakers — who have insisted on holding aisle seats during both Republican and Democratic administrations — to break their streaks.

26 PHOTOS
Top 25 words that come to mind for Trump: Quinnipiac poll
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Top 25 words that come to mind for Trump: Quinnipiac poll

"Bigot" -- 8

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

"American" -- 8

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

"Racist" -- 9

(Photo credit MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

"Dishonest" -- 9

(Photo by Chris Kleponis-Pool/Getty Images)

"Clown" -- 9

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

"Great" -- 10

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

"Disgusting" -- 10

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

"Successful" -- 11

(Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo - Pool/Getty Images)

"Narcissist" -- 11

(Photo by Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images)

"Business" -- 11

(Photo credit NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

"Bully" -- 11

(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

"Trying" -- 12

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

"Arrogant" -- 12

(Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)

"Stupid" -- 13

(Photo by: Adam Jeffery/CNBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

"A--hole" -- 13

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

"Egotistical" -- 15

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

"Ignorant" -- 16

(Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo - Pool/Getty Images)

"Businessman" -- 18

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

"Strong" -- 21

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

"President" -- 22

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

"Unqualified" -- 25

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

"Leader" -- 25

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

"Liar" -- 30

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

"Incompetent" -- 31

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

"Idiot" -- 39

(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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House Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Eliot Engel has repeatedly scored aisle seats in order to steal a handshake with the president. This year, Engel told Business Insider that he will not be taking the aisle. 

"I'm gonna be there for the speech, but I'm going to sit with my colleagues in the middle of the row rather than the aisle," Engel said. "I think that's the better way for me to be there. I think it's important to be there but I'm gonna be an average person."

Another prominent Democrat known for holding the aisle is Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. Photographers have captured Jackson Lee shaking the president's hand at a State of the Union during every administration since she joined Congress in 1995.

But this year is different. Like many Democrats, she is frustrated with Trump's policies and overall rhetoric. Jackson Lee told Business Insider on Wednesday she has yet to make a decision on whether she will even attend the State of the Union address.

"I have no idea whether I'm going or not," she said.

Trump's State of the Union may usher in a new class of aisle hogs like Long and Gohmert. But it is certainly changing the exclusivity of the best seat in the House.

38 PHOTOS
Obama's State of the Union 2016
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Obama's State of the Union 2016
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: U.S. President Barack Obama waves after delivering the State of the Union speech before members of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. In his last State of the Union, President Obama reflected on the past seven years in office and spoke on topics including climate change, gun control, immigration and income inequality. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address before a Joint Session of Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 12, 2016. AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: U.S. President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union speech before members of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. In his last State of the Union, President Obama reflected on the past seven years in office and spoke on topics including climate change, gun control, immigration and income inequality. Also pictured are Vice President Joe Biden (Top L) and U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) (Top R). (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter greets members of congress before US President Barack Obama arrives to deliver the State of the Union speech before members of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. In his last State of the Union, President Obama reflected on the past seven years in office and spoke on topics including climate change, gun control, immigration and income inequality. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama speaks during the State of the Union Address during a Joint Session of Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 12, 2016. Barack Obama will give his final State of the Union address Tuesday, perhaps the last big opportunity of his presidency to sway a national audience and frame the 2016 election race. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address before a Joint Session of Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 12, 2016. AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: (L-R) Gov. Dannel P. Malloy of Connecticut, first lady Michelle Obama, Naveed Shah of Springfield, VA., and wife of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, Dr. Jill Biden give applause as US President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union speech before members of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill January 12, 2016 in Washington, D.C. In his final State of the Union, President Obama reflected on the past seven years in office and spoke on topics including climate change, gun control, immigration and income inequality. (Photo by Evan Vucci - Pool/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama speaks during the State of the Union Address during a Joint Session of Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 12, 2016. Barack Obama will give his final State of the Union address Tuesday, perhaps the last big opportunity of his presidency to sway a national audience and frame the 2016 election race. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama (front) looks on as US Vice President Joe Biden gestures during the State of the Union Address in a Joint Session of Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 12, 2016. Barack Obama will give his final State of the Union address Tuesday, perhaps the last big opportunity of his presidency to sway a national audience and frame the 2016 election race. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: US Secretary of State John Kerry (R), along with United States Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew (2nd R), U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter (3rd R), and U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch (4th R) gives applause as US President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union speech before members of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. In his last State of the Union, President Obama reflected on the past seven years in office and spoke on topics including climate change, gun control, immigration and income inequality. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: Members of congress including Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) (C) applause as US President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union speech in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. In his last State of the Union, President Obama reflected on the past seven years in office and spoke on topics including climate change, gun control, immigration and income inequality. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: U.S. President Barack Obama (L) shakes hands with U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan (R) before delivering the State of the Union speech before members of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. In his last State of the Union, President Obama reflected on the past seven years in office and spoke on topics including climate change, gun control, immigration and income inequality. Also pictured are Vice President Joe Biden (L) and U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 12 - President Barack Obama speaks during his final State of the Union to a joint session of Congress in the House Chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)
US President Barack Obama (C) speaks during the State of the Union Address during a Joint Session of Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 12, 2016. Barack Obama will give his final State of the Union address Tuesday, perhaps the last big opportunity of his presidency to sway a national audience and frame the 2016 election race. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama reads from the text of his State of the Union address before a Joint Session of Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 12, 2016. This is Obama's final State of the Union address, perhaps the last opportunity of his presidency to sway a national audience and frame the 2016 election. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks with members of congress before US President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union speech before members of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama speaks during the State of the Union Address during a Joint Session of Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 12, 2016. Barack Obama will give his final State of the Union address Tuesday, perhaps the last big opportunity of his presidency to sway a national audience and frame the 2016 election race. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: Little Sisters of the Poor (C) arrive before US President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union speech before members of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: Gov. Dannel P. Malloy of Connecticut (Center-L) and first lady Michelle Obama, talk before US President Barack Obama arrives before US President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union speech before members of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama speaks during the State of the Union Address during a Joint Session of Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 12, 2016. Barack Obama will give his final State of the Union address Tuesday, perhaps the last big opportunity of his presidency to sway a national audience and frame the 2016 election race. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address before a Joint Session of Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 12, 2016. This is Obama's final State of the Union address, perhaps the last opportunity of his presidency to sway a national audience and frame the 2016 election. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: U.S. President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union speech before members of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. In his last State of the Union, President Obama reflected on the past seven years in office and spoke on topics including climate change, gun control, immigration and income inequality. Also pictured are Vice President Joe Biden (L) and U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: U.S. President Barack Obama (C) delivers the State of the Union speech before members of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. In his last State of the Union, President Obama reflected on the past seven years in office and spoke on topics including climate change, gun control, immigration and income inequality. Also pictured are Vice President Joe Biden (L) and U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R), R-WI, and US Vice President Joe Biden (L) shake hands with US President Barack Obama before the State of the Union Address during a Joint Session of Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 12, 2016. Barack Obama will give his final State of the Union address Tuesday, perhaps the last big opportunity of his presidency to sway a national audience and frame the 2016 election race. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: US Vice President Joe Biden gestures before the arrival of US President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union speech before members of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. In his last State of the Union, President Obama reflected on the past seven years in office and spoke on topics including climate change, gun control, immigration and income inequality. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: US Secretary of State John Kerry arrives before US President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union speech before members of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
US First Lady Michelle Obama (C) waves before the arrival of US President Barack Obama before the State of the Union Address during a Joint Session of Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 12, 2016. Barack Obama will give his final State of the Union address, perhaps the last big opportunity of his presidency to sway a national audience and frame the 2016 election race. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Satya Nadella (C), CEO of Microsoft, gestures as he waits for US President Barack Obama to deliver the State of the Union at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 12, 2016. Obama gives his final State of the Union address, perhaps the last opportunity of his presidency to sway a national audience and frame the 2016 election. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (L) of Vermont arrives prior to US President Barack Obama's State of the Union address before a Joint Session of Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on January 12, 2016. This is Obama's final State of the Union address, perhaps the last opportunity of his presidency to sway a national audience and frame the 2016 election. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) arrives before US President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union speech before members of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Kim Davis, the Rowan County clerk in Kentucky, arrives before US President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union Address during a Joint Session of Congress at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, January 12, 2016. Kim Davis, a born-again Christian, was jailed briefly in September 2015 for contempt of court after refusing to issue marriage licenses due to her opposition to gay marriage, which the Supreme Court legalized across the United States in June. Barack Obama will give his final State of the Union address, perhaps the last big opportunity of his presidency to sway a national audience and frame the 2016 election race. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) arrives before US President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union speech before members of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: Ahmad Alkhalaf, 9, arrives before US President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union speech before members of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), shakes hands with Senator John McCain (R-AZ) as Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) looks on before US President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union speech before members of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) gives a thumbs up to members of congress before US President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union speech before members of Congress in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 12: Members of congress listen to US President Barack Obama deliver the State of the Union speech in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol January 12, 2016 in Washington, DC. In his last State of the Union, President Obama reflected on the past seven years in office and spoke on topics including climate change, gun control, immigration and income inequality. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
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