U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) released the following statement in advance of the President’s State of the Union address tonight about what he hopes to hear from the leader of the country.

“Tonight, my good friend Senator Mark Kirk, a Republican from Illinois will miss this important speech because he will be recovering from a stroke. Mark and I were planning to sit together, so I will be keeping the seat beside me empty in his honor. I also plan to keep it warm, because we need Mark back in the Senate. He’s the kind of leader who will reach across the aisle to put his country first, and he needs to get back to Washington as soon as his health allows.

“As always, the people of West Virginia will be at the top of my mind tonight. I just spent the past two weeks traveling all across our great state to hear the concerns and priorities of the good people of West Virginia, and more than anything, they say it’s time for their elected leaders of both parties to put politics aside and work together on commonsense solutions to our major challenges: creating jobs, putting our financial house in order, achieving energy independence, agreeing to meaningful tax reform so that our system is more fair, and leaving this country in better shape for the next generation.

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