“Before the request was sent, the [White House] talked to Boehner’s office and raised the date and time, and there was no objection raised by them,” an administration official told Roll Call.
Not true, Boehner’s camp said.
“No one in the Speaker’s office — not the Speaker, not any staff — signed off on the date the White House announced today,” Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said. “Unfortunately, we weren’t even asked if that date worked for the House. Shortly before it arrived this morning, we were simply informed that a letter was coming. It’s unfortunate the White House ignored decades, if not centuries, of the protocol of working out a mutually agreeable date and time before making any public announcement.”
A senior Democratic aide called the bickering “childish” before taking a few shots himself.
“The childish behavior coming out of the Speaker’s office today is truly historic,” the source said. “It is unprecedented to reject the date that a president wants to address a joint session of the Congress. People die and state funerals are held with less fuss, so the logistics excuse by the Speaker’s office is laughable. Yes, consultation always occurs, but the president always gets the date he wants.”
By Wednesday evening, the White House had yielded to Boehner’s recommendation.
“Both Houses will be back in session after their August recess on Wednesday, September 7th, so that was the date that was requested,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a statement. “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% of their attention on doing whatever they can to help the American people.”
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., takes a selfie with his cut-out head during the Hoops for Youth 16th annual charity basketball game held at George Washington University's Smith Center, September 8, 2014. The members of Congress team beat the lobbyist team 46-40. Buy photo here.