Obama to address joint session of Congress

President Obama will address a joint session of Congress next Wednesday in a move intended to reassert control over healthcare.

A government official confirmed that the president will address the House and Senate in a special session, Obama's second such address since taking office.


The White House signaled Wednesday morning that Obama would alter his strategy on healthcare, which stalled even before Congress entered an August recess that has been brutal to healthcare reform efforts. Conservative groups opposed to legislation introduced by Democrats have used town hall meetings across the country to criticize healthcare reform, and Democratic lawmakers, including House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Tuesday night, have often been on the defensive.

Top White House adviser David Axelrod told the Associated Press Wednesday morning that the president would look to be "more prescriptive" on healthcare in coming days, and he told ABC news that Obama is looking to "close" the debate over healthcare soon.

Obama has been under pressure by members of Congress in both parties to clarify his specific positions on healthcare, including whether he will insist that legislation include a public insurance option.

The joint session address is sure to add pressure to negotiators on the Senate Finance Committee, whose members have been hoping to assemble a health bill with bipartisan support by a self-imposed deadline of Sept. 15.

Obama has taken to the airwaves a number of times to make the case for health reform, including some primetime press conferences from the White House. But the ratings for those availabilities have dropped, and some networks have balked at airing them. Obama has also not made a televised Oval Office address to date during his presidency.

The Obama speech is expected to air in primetime, though a specific time has not yet been set.