Tradition dictates that when a president addresses a joint session of Congress, he or she must first seek the approval of congressional leadership. Barack Obama, who made history as the nation’s first African-American commander-in-chief, has once again made history as the first president to have his request rebuffed by the House speaker.
After announcing plans to deliver his long-awaited jobs speech before the two chambers on Wednesday, Sept. 7, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) countered that the next day would be better because of a previously scheduled Republican presidential primary debate. In an ideal world for the president, he would have been able to set the stage for the upcoming debates in Congress and on the campaign trail about how best to boost job creation by forcing Republican lawmakers and presidential hopefuls to respond and propose alternatives to his messaging.
According to Talking Points Memo, a spokesperson for Boehner confirmed that no one in the speaker’s office had signed off on the White House’s proposed date before the news broke.
“Unfortunately, we weren’t even asked if that date worked for the House. Shortly before [Obama’s request] arrived this morning, we were simply informed that a letter was coming,” said Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck. “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.”
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Thursday on MSNBC's Morning Joe that the episode is yet another reason why Americans are “fed up” with Washington, and that Obama’s goal is to get the economy going again.
Obama's critics, however, may see it as yet another example of when the president has refused to put up a good fight against Republicans and others who they believe want to see him fail at all costs.
(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/GettyImages)