John Boehner Balks at Timing of Obama Jobs Speech
Updated: 5:21 p.m.
Speaker John Boehner is asking President Barack Obama to reconsider the timing of a high-profile jobs address that Obama sought to give to a joint meeting of Congress on Sept. 7.
The move, a brushback by Boehner to a major power play by Obama, puts the timing of Obama’s address in limbo.
The Ohio Republican pits his “recommendation” as a technical matter of Congressional calendars and security sweeps. He said delaying the speech 24 hours could avoid “logistical impediments.”
“As the Majority Leader announced more than a month ago, the House will not be in session until Wednesday, September 7, with votes at 6:30 that evening,” Boehner wrote in a letter to Obama. “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.”
The president’s request for an 8 p.m. speech to Congress on Sept. 7 conflicts with a scheduled Republican presidential debate, but Boehner’s letter did not mention the debate.
Debate sponsors NBC and Politico announced earlier Wednesday that they would proceed with the Sept. 7 event.
Obama’s request to hold a joint session of Congress at the same time as the debate riled some of the debate’s participants, with a spokesman for former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman calling it “desperate.”
The bold move carries risks: Critics have already called it too cute and mocked White House press secretary Jay Carney’s insistence that the planned timing of the speech had nothing to do with the GOP debate.
But by pitting Obama head to head against the still large number of GOP candidates on the debate stage, the president could contrast a steady hand to a cacophony of voices, some offering ideas that could seem radical to independent voters.
Now, though, whether the face-off will take place is in question.
Notably, Boehner wrote that his letter was on behalf of the GOP-controlled House and the Democratic-controlled Senate.
“On behalf of the bipartisan leadership and membership of both the House and Senate, I respectfully invite you to address a Joint Session of Congress on Thursday, September 8, 2011 in the House Chamber, at a time that works best for your schedule,” Boehner wrote.
A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Adam Jentleson, said via Twitter that the Nevada Democrat “looks forward to hearing the President’s plan to generate jobs during a joint session of Congress next week.” Jentleson did not comment on the Boehner letter.