White House Backs Down on Joint Session-GOP Debate Schedule Clash

By Patrick Goodenough | September 1, 2011 | 2:59 AM EDT

President Barack Obama speaks at a meeting with the congressional leadership at the White House, July 7, 2011. (AP photo)

(CNSNews.com) – The White House said Wednesday evening President Obama will now address Congress on job proposals next Thursday, following a day-long kerfuffle with Republicans over plans to do so one day earlier – the same day and time as a scheduled GOP presidential candidates’ debate.

Hours earlier, White House press secretary Jay Carney had suggested during a press briefing that the debate be rescheduled, saying he was sure Obama would welcome it if the debate sponsors and candidates “chose to adjust the timing of their debate so that it didn’t conflict.”

The White House proposed the date and time for the president’s address on Wednesday morning; the GOP debate, to be co-hosted by Politico and NBC News and held at Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in California, was first announced last November, and the Sept. 7 date was set on May 3.

On Wednesday evening Carney released a statement saying Obama would now address the joint session on Thursday, Sept. 8.

“Today, the President asked to address the Congress about the need for urgent action on the economic situation facing the American people as soon as Congress returned from recess,” the statement said. “Both Houses will be back in session after their August recess on Wednesday, September 7th, so that was the date that was requested.”

“We consulted with the Speaker about that date before the letter was released, but he determined Thursday would work better. The President is focused on the urgent need to create jobs and grow our economy, so he welcomes the opportunity to address a Joint Session of Congress on Thursday, September 8th and challenge our nation's leaders to start focusing 100 percent of their attention on doing whatever they can to help the American people.”

Earlier in the day, House Speaker John Boehner in a letter asked Obama to deliver his speech on Sept. 8, noting that Congress is only scheduled to return to session on Sept. 7, and that House and Senate approval – by concurrent resolution – is required for a joint session to be held.

“With the significant amount of time – typically more than three hours – that is required to allow for a security sweep of the House Chamber before receiving a President, it is my recommendation that your address be held on the following evening, when we can ensure there will be no parliamentary or logistical impediments that might detract from your remarks,” he said.

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow