President Obama requested to address a joint session of congress to present his jobs proposal. The problem is that it was requested at the same time as a Republican presidential debate. House leader Boehner rejected Obama’s request and suggested it happen the following day. What is going on here?
Most of the time the White House will negotiate with congressional leaders before they make a joint session request. Due to congressional schedules, it can be difficult to make a joint session fit into everyone’s schedules. It appears this did not happen in this case. That is problem one.
Problem two is that the joint session requested would have happened at the same time as a republican presidential debate. Obviously this means that Obama would be center stage instead of the people running against him next November.
So why go through this with those problems so obvious? Obama has been saying that he wanted to present his jobs plan as soon as congress was back in session. The earliest possible time to have a joint session is the evening requested since the House does not convene until 6:30pm that day. So from that angle it makes sense. But why not wait until the following day or following week?
Obama knows that he not only needs to put his proposal out there as soon as possible, but also knows that he needs to reach as many people as possible with his address. The following evening is the NFL kickoff game. The sad fact is that more people will be watching that game than the President should he speak that night, which lowers his audience.
Obama wants as big of an audience as possible as soon as possible. The date he requested meets those requirements, though it does have obvious issues. In the end Obama accepted Boehner’s request to move the speech to Thursday night. From what I can find through research, this back and forth spectacle on when to have a joint session has never happened in public before.
This shows the sad state of politics today. If asking to speak to congress causes a back and forth, imagine what will happen when legislation actually begins. The partisanship is going strong in Washington making it harder to get things done. With the super committee responsible for finding cuts in spending and/or tax code changes, things could get really harry soon. Some might argue that is a good thing, but when our economy is still in shambles I can’t see how gridlock in Washington is a good thing for anyone.