Obama, Boehner OK speech schedule

Sept. 1, 2011 at 9:56 PM
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 1 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, Thursday agreed on a date for the president to address a joint session of Congress on jobs.

Initially, the White House had said the president would speak to Congress Sept. 7 but Boehner's office said that would not work and the two sides agreed late Wednesday to shift the appearance to Sept. 8.

Boehner's office announced Thursday it had formally invited Obama to speak to a joint session of Congress Sept. 8, and the White House subsequently said Obama has accepted

"After consulting with the Speaker's office, the President has accepted an invitation to address a Joint Session of Congress at 7pm on Thursday, September 8th," the White House said in a statement.

Wednesday's back and forth on the issue dominated much of the White House press corps's focus during Thursday's daily briefing with administration spokesman Jay Carney, who characterized press interest in the matter as an "obsession" and called the controversy a "sideshow."

"Our focus from the beginning was to have the president have the opportunity to speak to the American people and to Congress, in front of Congress, at the soonest possible date upon Congress' return from its long recess," Carney said in answer to one of numerous questions during the briefing. "Wednesday seemed to be the best option. When that wasn't available -- or when that seemed to be a problem, Thursday was fine with us."

Asked whether the dickering over scheduling suggested the president and Congress could not come up with a plan for expanding employment, Carney said "the sideshows don't matter. The economy matters."

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