Boehner encourages all members to attend Obama's address to Congress

Boehner encourages all members to attend Obama's address to Congress

House Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerFrom learning on his feet to policy director Is Congress retrievable? Boehner reveals portrait done by George W. Bush MORE (R-Ohio) is encouraging all members of his conference to attend President Obama’s address to Congress on Thursday night, even as a few GOP lawmakers have said they won’t go.

“I’ve encouraged my colleagues to come tonight and to listen to the president,” BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerFrom learning on his feet to policy director Is Congress retrievable? Boehner reveals portrait done by George W. Bush MORE told reporters after meeting with the Republican conference.

ADVERTISEMENT

Reps. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) and Paul BrounPaul Collins BrounJoe Lieberman's son running for Senate in Georgia California lawmaker's chief of staff resigns after indictment Republican candidates run against ghost of John Boehner MORE (R-Ga.) have announced they will skip the president’s speech, and Boehner conceded there was only so much he could do to encourage attendance.

“He is the president of the United States, and I believe that all members ought to be here,” Boehner said. “It doesn’t mean they’re going to. Remember, I’m just the Speaker. I’ve got 434 colleagues who have their own opinions, and they’re entitled to them. But as an institution, the president is coming at our invitation. We ought to be respectful, and we ought to welcome him.”

Boehner also defended his decision not to offer an official Republican response to Obama’s address, as is traditional after presidential speeches to a joint session of Congress. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has criticized the decision as disrespectful.


“This is not a State of the Union address. The American people should not be forced to watch some politician they don’t want to listen to,” Boehner said. “I think they’d rather watch football.”

Republican lawmakers, he said, would be able to address the media individually from Statuary Hall, just outside the House chamber. “It’s a more appropriate and respectful way to go forward,” Boehner said.

The Speaker wouldn’t comment on specific proposals that Obama is expected to offer, saying he would wait until after the speech.

“I’m going to be looking for, where is the common ground? What is it we can agree on?” Boehner said. “We know that the two parties aren’t going to agree on everything, but the American people want us to find common ground, and I’ll be looking for it.”

House Republicans are inviting a dozen business owners to attend the speech as a way of demonstrating the importance of small businesses in job creation and to set up their efforts to reduce federal regulations.