Obama, Boehner reach deal on timing of address to joint session of Congress

President Obama will give his jobs address to a joint session of Congress at 7 p.m. EDT next Thursday.

The White House and Speaker John Boehners (R-Ohio) office announced they had reached the deal in two separate releases emailed to reporters. 

At his request, the Speaker has respectfully invited the President to address a Joint Session of Congress next Thursday at 7:00 p.m., Boehners office said in its release. 

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The White House responded with a one-sentence news release from press secretary Jay Carney.

After consulting with the Speaker’s office, the President has accepted an invitation to address a Joint Session of Congress at 7pm on Thursday, September 8th, Carney said in the release.

The evening start time puts the president’s address 90 minutes ahead of the NFL season opener between the New Orleans Saints and Green Bay Packers, which will likely dominate the television ratings. 

The invitation and acceptance come a day after a nasty and public spat between the White House and the Speaker over choosing a day for the speech.


The dispute left Democrats expressing some despair and confusion Thursday over the White House’s handling of the issue, with some questioning the advice Obama is getting from his staff.

The decision to accede to GOP demands to switch the day of the speech was widely viewed as another capitulation to Republicans from a weakened president who is struggling with sinking approval ratings.

“I wonder who is advising him,” said Larry Berman, a political science professor at the University of California-Davis.

“This is staffing 101, and it seems like he has no idea how to protect his professional reputation or power prospects,” Berman said.

By moving the speech from Sept. 7 to Sept. 8, Obama agreed to a time and date that would not interfere with next Wednesday’s GOP presidential debate in California.

Yet by moving the speech out front of the NFL game, Obama also risks cutting into his viewership. His speech will no longer take place in primetime.

“It’s bewildering to me, unless it was premeditated because he or his staff have a spin for the election narrative,” Berman said.

Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons took his disgust with the latest move to Twitter.

“We had a saying growing up: Don’t start none, won’t be none,” Simmons tweeted. “Others say don’t pull out a gun ur not ready to shoot. Words to live by.”

Carney did his best Thursday to make it seem as if Obama does not care when he gives his address to Congress.

Carney dismissed the incident as a “sideshow” at his daily briefing, where he lectured reporters about their “obsession” with “silly political games.”

“The sideshow doesn’t matter,” Carney said. “The economy matters.”

Carney also said he spent the morning with Obama, and, somewhat incredibly, said the dust-up with Boehner never came up in conversation.

Arguably the most embarrassing 24 hours of the Obama administration began at midday Wednesday when the White House requested Obama address a joint session of Congress at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 7.

A few hours later, Boehner, citing security concerns, asked Obama to move his speech to Sept. 8. On Wednesday night, Obama and the White House agreed.

The White House insisted it had won approval from Republicans for the Sept. 7 date and timing of the speech before making its request public. House Republican staff said that wasn’t the case.

Carney also said White House communications with Republicans were “fine,” even though White House chief of staff Bill Daley had called Boehner to tell him Obama wanted to give the speech next Wednesday.

The back-and-forth has left some Democrats in Washington worried that the White House is becoming a rudderless ship.

Veteran Democratic strategist James Carville said the White House made a mistake in requesting that Obama give a speech at the same time as the GOP debate.

“I do think this is a really big debate and I think the White House was out of bounds … in trying to schedule a speech during a debate,” Carville said Thursday on “Good Morning America.”

Still, Carney endeavored to transition from the snafu to an indictment of the broken politics in Washington, insisting repeatedly that Obama cares far more about the contents of the speech on jobs than the date on which he delivers it.

“What we’re not interested in is inside-the-Beltway political gamesmanship,” Carney said.

Jamie Klatell contributed.

This story was updated at 6:16 p.m.

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