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President Barack Obama asked Speaker of the House John Boehner and Majority Leader Harry Reid to hold a joint session of Congress on September 7 to correspond with Obama’s major job speech. In a completely unprecedented move, and sort of reeking of an adolescent, Boehner said no.
Later on Wednesday, Boehner responded and asked Obama to move his major speech to September 8 instead of the 7th. An Obama administration stated that the date had already been worked out with Republican leadership before the announcement was public.
Boehner’s office stated they were given a small advance notice but never okayed the date. “No one in the speaker’s office — not the speaker, not any staff — signed off on the date the White House announced today,” Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said. The joint session would provide the president with the type of audience that usually accompanies a State of the Union address. Obama wants to shift political discussion to job creation.
A Republican debate is scheduled for the same day, which may be motivating both sides. Asked if the White House chose the date specifically to upstage the Republican presidential field, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney responded, “No, of course not,” adding that the Sept. 7 debate, which will be co-hosted by NBC and Politico, was “one debate of many.”
Speaker Boehner responded to the president in a letter. He stated his reasoning for postponing the speech is because the House officials would not have enough time to pass the resolution and conduct the security measures necessary in order to officially invite the president to a joint session on Wednesday , but apparently that one extra day will help. This seems highly unlikely because Congress has passed massive legislation on shorter notice.
Boehner’s response is not only juvenile; it apparently has never been done before.”The Senate Historical Office knows of no instance in which Congress refused the president permission to speak before a Joint Session of Congress,” said Betty K. Koed, an associate historian for the U.S. Senate, in response to an inquiry from The Huffington Post.
“From 1800 to 1913, presidents chose not to address Congress in person. Since 1913, every president has appeared before Congress at least once during his term(s) in office. Permission to speak in a joint session is given by resolution of the House and Senate, and arrangements are made through the leadership offices of each chamber.”
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