With President Obama apparently having completed his proposal to create job growth in the United States after only two and a half years in office, he decided that he wanted to tell Congress about it. Thus, earlier today, the President sent a letter to Speaker Boehner and Senator Reid asking them if he could deliver an address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, September 7th. That coincidentally just happened to be the same night that NBC and Politico were hosting the Reagan GOP Presidential Debate in California, but of course the White House said that was not a factor at all in their choice of a time slot.
Shockingly, and for the first time in history, Mr. Boehner said... come back tomorrow. Citing the fact
that the House of Representatives is not due to be back in session until 6:30 on Wednesday, and reminding the President that his invitation is contingent on the House adopting a concurrent resolution in favor, the Speaker said that it would not be enough time to secure the Capitol for his speech and requested that the President deliver his speech on Thursday, "at a time that works best" for his schedule. (Again, apparently also coincidentally, Thursday night happens to be the NBC NFL Kick-off between the Saints and the Packers). A Speaker of the House has never publicly told a President to change dates like this before; it is usually done behind closed doors. Thus this is a move
that is very telling of President Obama's weakened political authority in Washington and how far the House GOP has come on controlling the negotiating table.
GOP aides have also come forward and complained that the Speaker was only notified of the date Obama wanted 15 minutes before it was announced, and said it is unprecedented for the President to request a joint session without consulting Congress first. Historically, the President usually does give the Speaker more of a heads up to work out a time before going public. Now, the speech is in limbo as the Legislative and Executive branches dance around each other and try not to come off as petulant in front of the public. Parliamentary intrigue, congressional tradition, separate but equal branches, large personalities, Reagan's shadow, football-I find this all humorously exciting, partially because, at the root of it, I think everyone knows that whatever the President gets up and talks about will be fairly inconsequential. He has forfeited most of his authority to govern, which he never seemed to enjoy much anyways, and is fully in campaign mode. This spat will be fun to watch unfold.