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Obama to deliver State of the Union address on Jan. 25

'We welcome an opportunity to hear your proposals,' House Speaker John Boehner says in his formal invitation to President Obama to deliver the State of the Union address. The new GOP majority in the House and the Tucson shooting are expected to add drama to the speech.

January 11, 2011|By Michael A. Memoli, Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON -- House Speaker John Boehner has formally invited President Obama to deliver his State of the Union address to Congress on Jan. 25.

"As many great challenges lie ahead for our nation, we welcome an opportunity to hear your proposals," the Ohio Republican wrote in a letter released Tuesday afternoon.

The speech will officially be Obama's second State of the Union address, and his fourth to a joint session of Congress. But it will be his first speaking to a Republican-majority House, with Boehner replacing Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi on the dais behind the president.

Because of the new political reality, it was already a heavily anticipated moment as the Obama administration recalibrates at midterm. But it takes on additional importance following Saturday's shooting rampage in Tucson, given how candidate Obama ran on a promise of changing the discourse in Washington. It was just two years ago that Obama was interrupted during his first joint-session speech by Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) as he discussed immigration.

The president is set to deliver his first major speech in the wake of the shootings on Wednesday at a memorial service in Tucson.

"Recent events have reminded us of the imperfect nature of our representative democracy, but also how much we cherish the ideal that our government exists to serve the people," Boehner wrote. "Even in the wake of tragedy, we must never waiver from our obligation to carry out their will and provide solutions to keep moving our nation forward."

Obama spent part of his Hawaii vacation working on early drafts of the speech. Aides said he was e-mailing sections back and forth with his speechwriting team during the 12-day trip. He will likely be refining it until the final hours before it is delivered.

mmemoli@tribune.com

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