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Obama agrees to delay jobs speech to Congress

August 31, 2011|By Michael A. Memoli
(Carolyn Kaster / Associated…)

The White House acceded to House Speaker John A. Boehner's request that President Obama address a joint session of Congress next Thursday, ending a brief scheduling skirmish that presages a larger policy fight over boosting job creation.

In a statement Wednesday evening, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama "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 Sept. 8.

Obama initially requested to make the speech on Sept. 7, at a time when the Republican presidential hopefuls were scheduled to debate at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley. The White House said the timing was coincidental; by then, both chambers were to be back in session after the August recess. GOP leaders were suspicious.

Hours after receiving what is typically a pro forma request, Boehner rejected it on logistical grounds, saying there would not be sufficient time for a security sweep of the Capitol or a guarantee of avoiding "parliamentary or logistical impediments that might detract from your remarks."

Aides to each leader blamed the other for what was an unprecedented inter-branch scuffle. House aides said the administration did not seek the customary pre-clearance for its request; the White House said the speaker's office initially did not balk at the suggested date.

Ultimately, the White House decided the most prudent course was to meet Boehner's request. But it sets up another conflict of greater interest than the GOP debate: the opening game of the 2011 National Football League season.

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