WASHINGTON — Upping the stakes of his push for a major jobs plan, President Barack Obama has requested House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to call a joint session of Congress that would take place on September 7, 2011.
The letter, sent from the White House to the respective leaders, reads as follows:
Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. Leader:),Our Nation faces unprecedented economic challenges, and millions of hardworking Americans continue to look for jobs. 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. We must answer this call.
Therefore, I respectfully request the opportunity to address a Joint Session of Congress on September 7, 2011, at 8:00 p.m. It is my 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 willing to put country before party, I am confident we can do just that.
A request for comment from Speaker Boehner’s office as to whether he will formally invite the president to address Congress was not immediately returned.
If the president’s request is granted, the joint session would provide him with the type of audience that usually accompanies a State of the Union address. It would also add additional weight to an already critical push by the administration to shift political discussions to job creation.
Obama has deployed this tactic in the past. After a series of town hall protests nearly derailed the health care reform legislative process in the summer of 2009, the president addressed a joint session.
Politics also seem to be at play here. The president’s speech would occur at precisely the same time as the Republican presidential field is set to hold a presidential debate at the Reagan library in California.
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.”
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