|The president’s speech will now have to compete with the opening game of the National Football League [Reuters]|
US President Barack Obama has given way to his top Republican foe in the feud over a date to debut a new White House jobs plan to a joint session of Congress.
Obama had requested September 7 for the long-anticipated speech on tackling the country’s 9.1 per cent unemployment rate, but will now be delivering the address on September 8.
The change ended a brief but bitter public dispute with John Boehner, the Republican House Speaker, whose support Obama needed to address the extraordinary joint session of Congress when polticians return next week from a month-long break.
The president had asked for the session to be held on September 7, at the same time as a Republican presidential debate was due to take place.
A president cannot call a joint session of Congress by himself, as the House of Representatives and the Senate must pass resolutions to invite him.
Usually, presidential requests to address Congress are routinely granted after discussions between the White House and politicians.
But Boehner, in his formal reply to the request, said: “It is my recommendation that your address be held on the following evening, when we can ensure there will be no parliamentary or logistical impediments that might detract from your remarks.”
Following Obama’s climbdown, Jay Carney, the White House spokesman, said: “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 8.”
Brendan Buck, a Boehner spokesman, said: “We appreciate the president working with us tonight and look forward to hearing his new proposals.
In agreeing to Boehner’s schedule, the president’s speech will also have to compete with the opening game of the National Football League, a conflict the White House wanted to avoid.
Obama’s initiative may represent his last chance to revive the economy before next year’s presidential election goes into overdrive.
It is expected to reflect his emerging 2012 re-election strategy of asking recession-weary voters to hold Republicans to account if they block his latest job creation efforts.
The president’s approval ratings have been driven sharply down by the stuttering recovery.
The speech is expected to consist of a mix of old and new proposals, including a call for tax rises on the richest Americans, more spending on job-creating infrastructure projects and an extension to a payroll tax cut.
His plan is likely to open a new rift with House Republicans who refuse to accept new spending proposals and tax rises and want steep cuts in expenditures in programmes dear to Democrats.