By Sam Youngman - 08/31/11 04:45 PM EDT
President Obama has requested a joint session of Congress next week to deliver his jobs speech directly to lawmakers.
In a letter to congressional leaders requesting the Sept. 7 slot, the president said he will urge Congress to put aside politics and focus on creating jobs during the 8 p.m. speech.
“As I have traveled across our country this summer and spoken with our fellow Americans, I have heard a consistent message: Washington needs to put aside politics and start making decisions based on what is best for our country and not what is best for each of our parties in order to grow the economy and create jobs,” Obama wrote. “We must answer this call.”
Asked whether the speech was purposefully scheduled the same night as the Republican debate, White House press secretary Jay Carney said, “Of course not.”
“It is coincidental,” said Carney, who explained that a number of considerations were taken into account when Obama settled on Sept. 7.
“One debate of many that’s on one channel of many was not enough of a reason” to pick another date, Carney said.
He added that Obama had chosen to speak directly to Congress in hopes that members had been chastened and softened after hearing from angry constituents over the August break.
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In that spirit, Obama will call on Congress to act immediately on proposals that the White House said will create jobs immediately.
“[The president] believes the [the joint session is the appropriate venue] because of the actions that need to be taken,” Carney said.
The White House for weeks has been promoting Obama’s address, which comes after the acrimonious debt-ceiling debate of July, the president’s Midwest bus tour and his Martha’s Vineyard vacation. The White House has said that Obama will offer new ideas on creating jobs and lowering annual deficits.
In his letter, Obama wrote that it will be his “intention to lay out a series of bipartisan proposals that the Congress can take immediately to continue to rebuild the American economy by strengthening small businesses, helping Americans get back to work and putting more money in the paychecks of the middle class and working Americans, while still reducing our deficit and getting our fiscal house in order.”
“It is our responsibility to find bipartisan solutions to help grow our economy, and if we are wiling to put country before party, I am confident we can do just that,” he wrote.
During a Tuesday speech in Minnesota, Obama said as many as 1 million new jobs could be created through a range of proposals.
Republicans have warned they will resist any new spending measures to push the economy forward, saying they do not wish to add to the deficit. They also have argued that the 2009 economic stimulus package backed by Obama was a failure.
House Republicans have announced a fall agenda focused on two tax-cutting measures and a series of votes on legislation that would roll back regulations the GOP argues are holding back growth.
— This story was posted at 12:01 p.m. and last updated at 3:57 p.m.