For the first time in history, a U.S. House Speaker has publicly rebuffed — or at least moved to rebuff — a request from the President of the United States to address a joint session of Congress.
The unexpected request, and unprecedented diss, have touched off a round of public partisan sniping so bitter, it’s been at least since debt limit negotiations broke down waaaaay back in July that we’ve seen anything like it.
The White House confirms to TPM that it gave Congressional leadership the heads up before announcing its request publicly and no objections were raised at the time. Republicans say they never signed off, and were never asked to sign off.
“The childish behavior coming out of the Speaker’s office today is truly historic,” said another senior Dem aide. “It is unprecedented to reject the date that a President wants to address a Joint Session of the Congress. People die and state funerals are held with less fuss, so the logistics excuse by the Speaker’s office is laughable. Yes, consultation always occurs, but the President always gets the date he wants.”
Can you imagine the uproar from the right if Pelosi had disrespected the office of the Presidency like this when Bush was in office? It’d be a cacophony. Never mind the fact that this was over jobs, the number one issue in this country right now, and you know the Republicans didn’t want to give the President the chance to speak on that, not when their strategy is to hurt the economy and the American people in order to beat him. On top of that, one of their biggest objections to the timing of the speech seems to have been that it was to force one of the 20+ Republican debates that no one seems to be watching in the months before the first caucus is even held to be rescheduled. Boohoo, no one cares. What’s even better is that, while millions of Americans are out of work or struggling to put food on the table, Boehner wasn’t happy because he and the rest of this do nothing Congress wanted the night off.
Just hours after President Obama scheduled his big jobs speech at the same time as the first GOP presidential debate featuring Texas Gov. Rick Perry, House Speaker John Boehner is asking that the President delay the speech by a day.
The format the White House requested for the address on September 7 was a big all-whistles-and-bells joint session of Congress. Boehner fired back in a very polite but pointed letter that made no mention of the GOP debate, but asked Obama to delay it until September 8, citing a different source of concern, namely that Congress won’t have time to formally approve the joint resolution of both houses extending the invite for Obama to make the address.
Almost unbelievable. This is government run by adolescent piss-ants. Mercifully, the President himself is a grownup.
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 31, 2011
Statement by the Press Secretary on the President’s Speech to a Joint Session of Congress
“Today, the President asked to address the Congress about the need for urgent action on the economic situation facing the American people as soon as Congress returned from recess. Both Houses will be back in session after their August recess on Wednesday, September 7th, so that was the date that was requested. We consulted with the Speaker about that date before the letter was released, but he determined Thursday would work better. The President 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 Thursday, September 8th and challenge our nation’s leaders to start focusing 100% of their attention on doing whatever they can to help the American people.”
Again, this is the first time in American history that Congress has disrespected a request from the President like this. Then again, this is also the first Congress to nearly default on the nation’s debt. The first Congress to try to systematically destroy Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. And the first Congress that was threatening a government shutdown every time you turned around. This is how Republicans govern, and America can do better.