Entries in Joint Session of Congress (5)


Analysis: An ‘Urgent’ Obama Tries to Rally Congress Behind Him

Kevin Lamarque-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Although President Obama urged the assembled members of Congress to “stop the political circus and actually do something to help the economy,” there were plenty of times during Thursday night’s speech that the president sounded like he was campaigning.

In an attempt to try and stay above the partisan fray and appeal to independent swing voters, Obama started his address Thursday night by focusing on what the two parties shared in common.

“There should be nothing controversial about this piece of legislation,” he said.  “Everything in here is the kind of proposal that’s been supported by both Democrats and Republicans -- including many who sit here tonight.”

He went on to highlight the fact that “50 House Republicans have proposed the same payroll tax cut that’s in this plan” and that the idea for an infrastructure fund “came from a bill written by a Texas Republican and a Massachusetts Democrat.”

Yet, his calls for action on his proposal -- sixteen times Thursday night he called on Congress to “pass this bill” -- also sounded a lot like something you’d hear at a campaign rally.

As one Democratic strategist told ABC News, this was “urgent” Obama not “explainer” Obama.  “Urgent” Obama was the candidate who was able to fire up crowds and connect with average voters.  “Explainer” Obama was the one who often seemed aloof and lecture-ey.

While he didn’t advocate for the kind of big stimulus spending that many liberals would have liked to see, he did make an impassioned defense of government.

“[T]his larger notion that the only thing we can do to restore prosperity is just dismantle government, refund everyone’s money, let everyone write their own rules, and tell everyone they’re on their own -- that’s not who we are,” said Obama.  “That’s not the story of America.”

The president has also showed no sign of backing down on his commitment to close tax breaks for corporations and wealthy Americans, despite the fact that he lost this battle at the end of 2010 and during the debt ceiling debate.

“Should we keep tax loopholes for oil companies?  Or should we use that money to give small business owners a tax credit when they hire new workers?  Because we can’t afford to do both,” he said.  ”Should we keep tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires?  Or should we put teachers back to work so our kids can graduate ready for college and good jobs?  Right now, we can’t afford to do both.”

This battle over the proper role of government is one that defined the election of 2010 and will be central to the debate between President Obama and his GOP opponent in 2012.  Americans have heard many of the lines Obama used Thursday night in previous speeches, and there’s little doubt they’ll hear much of what was in this address on the campaign trail and in debates in 2012.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Prepares for Jobs Speech before Congress

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama on Thursday will propose his plan to spur job growth in an address to a joint session of Congress, as well as a nationally televised audience.  But it's how he'll explain it that may possibly garner the most attention.

Well in advance of the speech, details of the president's proposals were leaked by the White House, which says his plan will mainly involve $300 billion in tax cuts, infrastructure funding and delivering aid to cash-strapped state and local governments.  At the core of the plan is keeping cuts in payroll taxes and extending unemployment benefits that are due to end on Dec. 31.

Meanwhile, Obama is expected to ask Congress to raise tax revenues down the road to pay for short-term jobs measures.  That's already a wish that's probably dead on arrival with the Republican-controlled House, which doesn't want to add any more spending nor boost taxes.

GOP lawmakers will argue that the administration's 2009 stimulus plan was nothing more than "a large, deficit-financed, government spending bill" that didn't put Americans back to work since the unemployment rate is still hovering around 9 percent.

However, Republicans also run the risk of putting themselves in a precarious position with an election fast approaching if they shoot down Obama's ideas and offer nothing in the way of creating jobs.

Meanwhile, White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Wednesday that there's more to the president's speech than has been reported and that he has some surprises up his sleeve that won't be revealed until Thursday night.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Boehner, Cantor Urge Obama to Convene Meeting before Jobs Address

Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg via Getty Images (WASHINGTON) -- House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor urged President Obama to find common ground with Republicans, asking that he convene a meeting with the top Congressional leadership before his address to a joint session of Congress Thursday “so that we may have the opportunity to constructively discuss your proposals.”

“While we each sincerely believe that our own policy prescriptions for economic recovery are what is best for the country, neither of us is likely to convince the other in a manner that results in the full implementation of those policies,” the duo wrote in a letter to the president Tuesday.  “While it is important that we continue to debate and discuss our different approaches to job creation, it is also critical that our differences not preclude us from taking action in areas where there is common agreement.  We should not approach this as an all or nothing situation.”

In the letter, Boehner of Ohio and Cantor of Virginia highlighted a number of potential areas for bipartisan agreement, such as the elimination of a law that requires states to set-aside 10 percent of their surface transportation funds for transportation enhancements, which must be used for the establishment of transportation museums, education activities for pedestrians and bicyclists, acquisition of scenic easements, historic preservation and operation of historic transportation facilities, among other things.

“While many of the initiatives funded by this mandatory set-aside may be worthy projects, eliminating this required set-aside would allow states to devote more money to the types of infrastructure programs you are advocating without adding to the deficit,” Boehner and Cantor noted.  “We believe such a reform would be consistent with your statement last week that we should ‘reform the way transportation money is invested, to eliminate waste, to give states more control over the projects that are right for them.’”

Boehner and Cantor also said they are “hopeful” that they can work with the White House to pass three pending free-trade agreements, speed up the permitting process for construction projects and overhaul the unemployment system to aid workers at risk of being unemployed for an extended period of time.

The leaders also urged Obama to support a batch of legislation that has already passed the House and that GOP leaders predict would lead to job creation that has stalled in the Democratic-led Senate.

“Our new majority has passed more than a dozen pro-growth measures to address the jobs crisis.  Aside from repeal of the 1099 reporting requirement in the health care law, however, none of the jobs measures passed by the House to date have been taken up by the Democrat-controlled Senate,” Boehner and Cantor wrote.  “Our hope is that both parties can work together in the coming weeks to reduce excessive regulation that is hampering job growth in our country.”

The White House does not know yet whether Obama will brief Congressional leaders before his jobs speech.

The president has not yet finished working on his speech, and he is not rehearsing it, but he did get considerable work accomplished over Labor Day weekend, according to a White House official.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rep. Van Hollen: Bipartisan Seating Possible Again Next Week

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- A scuffle over timing of a presidential speech has marred dreams of bipartisan unity in the coming weeks on Capitol Hill.

But one symbolic statement about the willingness to work together may come together next Thursday, when President Obama addresses a Joint Session of Congress -- a day later than he had planned.

Asked on ABC’s Top Line Thursday whether mixed seating -- Democrats next to Republicans -- will be in place like it was in January at the State of the Union address, a top member of House Democratic leaders said he hopes so.

“That last time I sat with a couple of my colleagues from Florida, [Rep.] Connie Mack and some others,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.  “So I thought that was a good example to set.  I hope we will do it again.”

Van Hollen, a member of the Congressional “super-committee” charged with recommending deficit-reduction matters, said the committee is “off to a fine start,” notwithstanding the fact that Democrats and Republicans on the committee have only met separately thus far.

“Things have been coming together,” Van Hollen said.  “The nuts and bolts have to be put together, you have to agree on a hearing schedule, who your witnesses are going to be.  That does take a little bit of time.”

Van Hollen said he hopes President Obama’s proposals aren’t going to be considered “partisan by my GOP colleagues.”

“I think you do need additional investments, stimulus -- whatever you want to call it,” he said, adding that spending on areas such as transportation infrastructure are a “win-win.”

In any event, he acknowledged that the disagreement over timing of the speech didn’t instill confidence in the process.

“Clearly we had an unfortunate back and forth with the date that the president can deliver his speech,” Van Hollen said.  “I’m glad that that was very quickly resolved.  Obviously we were not off to a great start in that respect.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama to Announce Jobs Plan; Requests Joint Session of Congress

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama intends to lay out his jobs plan in a joint session of Congress next week, the White House said Wednesday.

In a letter to Congress, the president requests the primetime event to explain a “series of bipartisan proposals that the Congress can take immediately to continue to rebuild the American economy by strengthening small businesses, helping Americans get back to work, and putting more money in the paychecks of the Middle Class and working Americans, while still reducing our deficit and getting our fiscal house in order.”

The president has requested that the joint session convenes Sept. 7 at 8 p.m. ET.

“It is our responsibility to find bipartisan solutions to help grow our economy, and if we are willing to put country before party, I am confident we can do just that,” the president writes.

“Our Nation faces unprecedented economic challenges, and millions of hardworking Americans continue to look for jobs. As I have traveled across our country this summer and spoken with our fellow Americans, I have heard a consistent message: Washington needs to put aside politics and start making decisions based on what is best for our country and not what is best for each of our parties in order to grow the economy and create jobs. We must answer this call,” he writes.

President Obama's address would compete with a scheduled Republican debate.


White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday that it is purely “coincidental” that the president has requested to unveil his much-anticipated jobs proposal before a joint session of Congress next week at the exact same time that the Republican presidential candidates are scheduled to debate.

“The president committed to speaking next week after the Labor Day holiday and immediately upon Congress's return, and there are a lot of factors that go into scheduling a speech before Congress, a joint session speech,” Carney explained at Wednesday’s White House press briefing. “There is no perfect time.”

“Obviously, one debate of many that's on one channel of many was not enough reason not to have the speech at the time that we decided to have it,” he added.

What’s the solution? “There are many channels, there are many opportunities for people to watch the president, and obviously an opportunity for people to watch the debate, and I believe that, you know, the network involved here can decide how it wants to deal,” Carney said.

That network would be NBC, which now has to decide whether to air the debate, which is being held at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., or the president’s remarks.

According to Carney, Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid have not yet accepted the president’s request to address a joint session.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio