Full Text Political Transcripts September 24, 2015: Pope Francis’ Address to Congress Transcript



Transcript: Pope Francis’s speech to Congress

Source: WaPo, 9-24-15

The following is the prepared text of Pope Francis’s address to a joint meeting of Congress, delivered Thursday in Washington. (Follow our liveblog for the latest)

Mr. Vice-President,

Mr. Speaker,

Honorable Members of Congress,

Dear Friends,

I am most grateful for your invitation to address this Joint Session of Congress in “the land of the free and the home of the brave”. I would like to think that the reason for this is that I too am a son of this great continent, from which we have all received so much and toward which we share a common responsibility.

Each son or daughter of a given country has a mission, a personal and social responsibility. Your own responsibility as members of Congress is to enable this country, by your legislative activity, to grow as a nation. You are the face of its people, their representatives. You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics. A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk. Legislative activity is always based on care for the people. To this you have been invited, called and convened by those who elected you.

Yours is a work which makes me reflect in two ways on the figure of Moses. On the one hand, the patriarch and lawgiver of the people of Israel symbolizes the need of peoples to keep alive their sense of unity by means of just legislation. On the other, the figure of Moses leads us directly to God and thus to the transcendent dignity of the human being. Moses provides us with a good synthesis of your work: you are asked to protect, by means of the law, the image and likeness fashioned by God on every human face.

Today I would like not only to address you, but through you the entire people of the United States. Here, together with their representatives, I would like to take this opportunity to dialogue with the many thousands of men and women who strive each day to do an honest day’s work, to bring home their daily bread, to save money and –one step at a time – to build a better life for their families. These are men and women who are not concerned simply with paying their taxes, but in their own quiet way sustain the life of society. They generate solidarity by their actions, and they create organizations which offer a helping hand to those most in need.

I would also like to enter into dialogue with the many elderly persons who are a storehouse of wisdom forged by experience, and who seek in many ways, especially through volunteer work, to share their stories and their insights. I know that many of them are retired, but still active; they keep working to build up this land. I also want to dialogue with all those young people who are working to realize their great and noble aspirations, who are not led astray by facile proposals, and who face difficult situations, often as a result of immaturity on the part of many adults. I wish to dialogue with all of you, and I would like to do so through the historical memory of your people.

My visit takes place at a time when men and women of good will are marking the anniversaries of several great Americans. The complexities of history and the reality of human weakness notwithstanding, these men and women, for all their many differences and limitations, were able by hard work and self-sacrifice – some at the cost of their lives – to build a better future. They shaped fundamental values which will endure forever in the spirit of the American people. A people with this spirit can live through many crises, tensions and conflicts, while always finding the resources to move forward, and to do so with dignity. These men and women offer us a way of seeing and interpreting reality. In honoring their memory, we are inspired, even amid conflicts, and in the here and now of each day, to draw upon our deepest cultural reserves.

I would like to mention four of these Americans: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton.

This year marks the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, the guardian of liberty, who labored tirelessly that “this nation, under God, [might] have a new birth of freedom”. Building a future of freedom requires love of the common good and cooperation in a spirit of subsidiarity and solidarity.

All of us are quite aware of, and deeply worried by, the disturbing social and political situation of the world today. Our world is increasingly a place of violent conflict, hatred and brutal atrocities, committed even in the name of God and of religion. We know that no religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism. This means that we must be especially attentive to every type of fundamentalism, whether religious or of any other kind. A delicate balance is required to combat violence perpetrated in the name of a religion, an ideology or an economic system, while also safeguarding religious freedom, intellectual freedom and individual freedoms. But there is another temptation which we must especially guard against: the simplistic reductionism which sees only good or evil; or, if you will, the righteous and sinners. The contemporary world, with its open wounds which affect so many of our brothers and sisters, demands that we confront every form of polarization which would divide it into these two camps. We know that in the attempt to be freed of the enemy without, we can be tempted to feed the enemy within. To imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place. That is something which you, as a people, reject.

Our response must instead be one of hope and healing, of peace and justice. We are asked to summon the courage and the intelligence to resolve today’s many geopolitical and economic crises. Even in the developed world, the effects of unjust structures and actions are all too apparent. Our efforts must aim at restoring hope, righting wrongs, maintaining commitments, and thus promoting the well-being of individuals and of peoples. We must move forward together, as one, in a renewed spirit of fraternity and solidarity, cooperating generously for the common good.

The challenges facing us today call for a renewal of that spirit of cooperation, which has accomplished so much good throughout the history of the United States. The complexity, the gravity and the urgency of these challenges demand that we pool our resources and talents, and resolve to support one another, with respect for our differences and our convictions of conscience.

In this land, the various religious denominations have greatly contributed to building and strengthening society. It is important that today, as in the past, the voice of faith continue to be heard, for it is a voice of fraternity and love, which tries to bring out the best in each person and in each society. Such cooperation is a powerful resource in the battle to eliminate new global forms of slavery, born of grave injustices which can be overcome only through new policies and new forms of social consensus.

Politics is, instead, an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build as one the greatest common good: that of a community which sacrifices particular interests in order to share, in justice and peace, its goods, its interests, its social life. I do not underestimate the difficulty that this involves, but I encourage you in this effort.

Here too I think of the march which Martin Luther King led from Selma to Montgomery fifty years ago as part of the campaign to fulfill his “dream” of full civil and political rights for African Americans. That dream continues to inspire us all. I am happy that America continues to be, for many, a land of “dreams”. Dreams which lead to action, to participation, to commitment. Dreams which awaken what is deepest and truest in the life of a people.

In recent centuries, millions of people came to this land to pursue their dream of building a future in freedom. We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners. I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants. Tragically, the rights of those who were here long before us were not always respected. For those peoples and their nations, from the heart of American democracy, I wish to reaffirm my highest esteem and appreciation. Those first contacts were often turbulent and violent, but it is difficult to judge the past by the criteria of the present. Nonetheless, when the stranger in our midst appeals to us, we must not repeat the sins and the errors of the past. We must resolve now to live as nobly and as justly as possible, as we educate new generations not to turn their back on our “neighbors” and everything around us. Building a nation calls us to recognize that we must constantly relate to others, rejecting a mindset of hostility in order to adopt one of reciprocal subsidiarity, in a constant effort to do our best. I am confident that we can do this.

Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War. This presents us with great challenges and many hard decisions. On this continent, too, thousands of persons are led to travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, in search of greater opportunities. Is this not what we want for our own children? We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation. To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal. We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome. Let us remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Mt 7:12).

This Rule points us in a clear direction. Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves. In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us. The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.

This conviction has led me, from the beginning of my ministry, to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty. I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes. Recently my brother bishops here in the United States renewed their call for the abolition of the death penalty. Not only do I support them, but I also offer encouragement to all those who are convinced that a just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.

In these times when social concerns are so important, I cannot fail to mention the Servant of God Dorothy Day, who founded the Catholic Worker Movement. Her social activism, her passion for justice and for the cause of the oppressed, were inspired by the Gospel, her faith, and the example of the saints.

How much progress has been made in this area in so many parts of the world! How much has been done in these first years of the third millennium to raise people out of extreme poverty! I know that you share my conviction that much more still needs to be done, and that in times of crisis and economic hardship a spirit of global solidarity must not be lost. At the same time I would encourage you to keep in mind all those people around us who are trapped in a cycle of poverty. They too need to be given hope. The fight against poverty and hunger must be fought constantly and on many fronts, especially in its causes. I know that many Americans today, as in the past, are working to deal with this problem.

It goes without saying that part of this great effort is the creation and distribution of wealth. The right use of natural resources, the proper application of technology and the harnessing of the spirit of enterprise are essential elements of an economy which seeks to be modern, inclusive and sustainable. “Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving the world. It can be a fruitful

source of prosperity for the area in which it operates, especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good” (Laudato Si’, 129). This common good also includes the earth, a central theme of the encyclical which I recently wrote in order to “enter into dialogue with all people about our common home” (ibid., 3). “We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all” (ibid., 14).

In Laudato Si’, I call for a courageous and responsible effort to “redirect our steps” (ibid., 61), and to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity. I am convinced that we can make a difference and I have no doubt that the United States – and this Congress – have an important role to play. Now is the time for courageous actions and strategies, aimed at implementing a “culture of care” (ibid., 231) and “an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature” (ibid., 139). “We have the freedom needed to limit and direct technology” (ibid., 112); “to devise intelligent ways of… developing and limiting our power” (ibid., 78); and to put technology “at the service of another type of progress, one which is healthier, more human, more social, more integral” (ibid., 112). In this regard, I am confident that America’s outstanding academic and research institutions can make a vital contribution in the years ahead.

A century ago, at the beginning of the Great War, which Pope Benedict XV termed a “pointless slaughter”, another notable American was born: the Cistercian monk Thomas Merton. He remains a source of spiritual inspiration and a guide for many people. In his autobiography he wrote: “I came into the world. Free by nature, in the image of God, I was nevertheless the prisoner of my own violence and my own selfishness, in the image of the world into which I was born. That world was the picture of Hell, full of men like myself, loving God, and yet hating him; born to love him, living instead in fear of hopeless self-contradictory hungers”. Merton was above all a man of prayer, a thinker who challenged the certitudes of his time and opened new horizons for souls and for the Church. He was also a man of dialogue, a promoter of peace between peoples and religions.

From this perspective of dialogue, I would like to recognize the efforts made in recent months to help overcome historic differences linked to painful episodes of the past. It is my duty to build bridges and to help all men and women, in any way possible, to do the same. When countries which have been at odds resume the path of dialogue – a dialogue which may have been interrupted for the most legitimate of reasons – new opportunities open up for all. This has required, and requires, courage and daring, which is not the same as irresponsibility. A good political leader is one who, with the interests of all in mind, seizes the moment in a spirit of openness and pragmatism. A good political leader always opts to initiate processes rather than possessing spaces (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 222-223).

Being at the service of dialogue and peace also means being truly determined to minimize and, in the long term, to end the many armed conflicts throughout our world. Here we have to ask ourselves: Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade.

Three sons and a daughter of this land, four individuals and four dreams: Lincoln, liberty; Martin Luther King, liberty in plurality and non-exclusion; Dorothy Day, social justice and the rights of persons; and Thomas Merton, the capacity for dialogue and openness to God.

Four representatives of the American people.

I will end my visit to your country in Philadelphia, where I will take part in the World Meeting of Families. It is my wish that throughout my visit the family should be a recurrent theme. How essential the family has been to the building of this country! And how worthy it remains of our support and encouragement! Yet I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without. Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family. I can only reiterate the importance and, above all, the richness and the beauty of family life.

In particular, I would like to call attention to those family members who are the most vulnerable, the young. For many of them, a future filled with countless possibilities beckons, yet so many others seem disoriented and aimless, trapped in a hopeless maze of violence, abuse and despair. Their problems

are our problems. We cannot avoid them. We need to face them together, to talk about them and to seek effective solutions rather than getting bogged down in discussions. At the risk of oversimplifying, we might say that we live in a culture which pressures young people not to start a family, because they lack possibilities for the future. Yet this same culture presents others with so many options that they too are dissuaded from starting a family.

A nation can be considered great when it defends liberty as Lincoln did, when it fosters a culture which enables people to “dream” of full rights for all their brothers and sisters, as Martin Luther King sought to do; when it strives for justice and the cause of the oppressed, as Dorothy Day did by her tireless work, the fruit of a faith which becomes dialogue and sows peace in the contemplative style of Thomas Merton.

In these remarks I have sought to present some of the richness of your cultural heritage, of the spirit of the American people. It is my desire that this spirit continue to develop and grow, so that as many young people as possible can inherit and dwell in a land which has inspired so many people to dream.

God bless America!

Political Headlines January 11, 2013: President Barack Obama to Deliver State of the Union on February 12





Obama to Deliver State of the Union on February 12

Source: ABC News Radio, 1-11-13

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Obama will deliver his State of the Union address on Feb. 12, before a joint session of Congress. The president on Friday accepted the annual invitation from the House speaker to do so.

In his invitation to President Obama, Speaker of the House John Boehner said the American people expect those in Washington to work together toward meaningful solutions to the country’s problems.

“Our nation continues to face immense challenges,” Boehner wrote, “and the American people expect us to work together in the new year to find meaningful solutions. This will require a willingness to seek common ground as well as presidential leadership.

“For that reason, the Congress and the Nation would welcome an opportunity to hear your plan and specific solutions for addressing America’s great challenges,” he said….READ MORE

Full Text Political Headlines January 11, 2013: Speaker John Boehner Invites President Barack Obama to Deliver State of the Union Address February 12, 2013





Speaker Boehner Invites President Obama to Deliver State of the Union Address

Source: Speaker Boehner Press Office, 1-11-13

Today, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) sent the following letter to President Obama formally inviting him to deliver his State of the Union address. The Joint Session will take place February 12, 2013.

January 11, 2013

The President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

Our nation continues to face immense challenges, and the American people expect us to work together in the new year to find meaningful solutions. This will require a willingness to seek common ground as well as presidential leadership. For that reason, the Congress and the Nation would welcome an opportunity to hear your plan and specific solutions for addressing America’s great challenges. Therefore, it is my privilege to invite you to speak before a Joint Session of Congress on February 12, 2013 in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol Building.

Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to your response.



Speaker of the House

NOTE: A PDF of the signed letter can be found online here.

White House Recap August 27-September 2, 2011: The Obama Presidency’s Weekly Recap — President Obama Focuses on the Aftermath of Hurricane Irene, Jobs Plan & Economic Growth — Urges Extension of Transportation Act



Weekly Wrap-Up: We the People

Source: WH, 9-2-11
Weekly Address September 1st 2011

President Barack Obama tapes the weekly address in the Blue Room of the White House, Sept. 1, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)

Here’s what happened this week on WhiteHouse.gov

Hurricane Irene: The storm may have passed, but the recovery is just beginning. Irene caused severe flooding throughout the Northeast.  As cities and towns along the East coast continue assessing damage, President Obama also reflected on the six year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

We the People:  This week Whitehouse.gov announced our most recent initiative:  We the People will bring significant change to how the public can engage with the White House online. This new tool enables people to easily start a petition; once a petition garners enough support, it will be reviewed by White House policy officials.

Council of Economic Advisers: On Monday in the Rose Garden, President Obama announced his intention to nominate Alan B. Krueger to lead the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA). As one of the nation’s leading economists, Dr. Krueger will bring decades of experience, including a stint as chief economist at the Treasury Department, and a wealth of knowledge to the challenge of creating jobs and promoting economic growth.

American Legion Conference: Speaking before the American Legion National Convention in Minneapolis on Tuesday, President Obama said that America’s military is the best it’s ever been, and celebrated the contributions of the post 9/11 generation, who have changed the way America fights and wins our wars.

Surface Transportation Act:  On Wednesday, President Obama spoke on the South Lawn urging Congress to pass a clean extension of key transportation programs as soon as possible. If Congress doesn’t act, the nation’s surface transportation program will expire at the end of September.  This provides funding for highway construction, bridge repair, mass transit systems and other essential projects that keep our people and our commerce moving quickly and safely. When the law expires, those projects will shut down, taking precious jobs with them.

Double Feature: This week on West Wing Week we follow Vice President Biden on his trip to Asia. Meanwhile, President Obama led the federal response to Hurricane Irene, made a key nomination announcement, and addressed the American Legion’s 93rd annual conference.

Political Buzz August 31, 2011: President Barack Obama Heeds to Speaker John Boehner’s Request to Change Date for Obama’s Joint Session of Congress for Jobs Speech — Address Changed to September 8


By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.




Full Text: President Barack Obama’s Letter to Congress & Speaker John Boehner’s Response

Obama to address joint session of Congress on Sept. 8: President Obama will address a joint session of Congress on Sept. 8 to lay out his plan for jobs and the economy, the White House announced Wednesday night. The date is one day later than the president requested earlier Wednesday, but that date conflicted with a scheduled debate of Republican presidential candidates, drawing objections from GOP lawmakers. House Speaker John A. Boehner responded by suggesting that Obama come to Capitol Hill on Thursday night, a date that now puts the president up against the first game of the NFL season.

“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.” — White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement.

    • Obama shifts date of jobs address to September 8: President Barack Obama will address a joint session of Congress on September 8 instead of September 7 to unveil proposals to create new jobs, bowing to objections from Republicans, the White House said on Wednesday.
      Obama had requested originally to address Congress on the same night as Republican presidential candidates are holding a televised debate…. – Reuters, 8-31-11
    • Obama Reschedules Economy Speech at Boehner’s Request: President Obama acquiesced to a request from Speaker John A. Boehner on Wednesday to move the date of his proposed address to a joint session of Congress to Thursday Sept. 8, after Mr. Boehner all but rejected Mr. Obama’s request to speak next Wednesday.
      Mr. Obama had asked to deliver a much anticipated speech outlining his proposals to boost employment and the economy on Sept. 7 — the same night as a scheduled Republican presidential debate, as it happens…. – NYT, 8-31-11
    • Obama moves address to Sept. 8: The date is one day later than the president requested earlier Wednesday, but that date conflicted with a scheduled debate of Republican presidential candidates in California, drawing objections from GOP lawmakers…. – WaPo, 8-31-11
    • House vs. White House over timing of Obama jobs speech: President Obama will outline his jobs program to a joint session of Congress next Thursday, the White House announced Wednesday night, following an hours-long standoff with Republicans over what day he would speak.
      Obama had requested to speak next Wednesday, Sept. 7, but House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, had suggested the next night because of logistical difficulties. Other Republicans objected to Sept. 7 because Republican presidential candidates have a debate that night in California…. – USA Today, 8-31-11
    • Obama Agrees to One-Day Delay for Speech: President Barack Obama agreed to a one-day delay to address a joint session of Congress on his plans to increase U.S. jobs.
      The White House issued a statement that said Obama “welcomes the opportunity” to deliver the speech on Sept. 8, a day later than he had planned. House Speaker John Boehner objected to Sept. 7, the same night as a Republican presidential debate…. – Bloomberg, 8-31-11

“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.”

  • And…Sept. 8 it is, White House says: The White House just put out a statement that puts the onus for clearing Sept. 7 as a date for President Obama’s ballyhooed jobs speech on House Speaker John Boehner, and says the president will instead “welcome” the chance to speak on Sept. 8:
    It’s a quiet end to a day-long partisan kerfuffle. But Obama ultimately will still be able to cut off some of the free media oxygen of whatever narrative emerges from the debate by speaking to the nation the next day, which was almost certainly the goal of choosing the night of the face-off in the first place…. – Politico, 8-31-11
  • Obama agrees to move speech to Thursday, GOP debate goes on: After a day of political ping-pong between the House Speaker John Boehner’s office and the White House, CNBC and New York Times reporter John Harwood reported that President Barack Obama had agreed to address Congress next Thursday, instead of next Wednesday as the White House had previously requested.
    The first major Republican primary debate since Gov. Rick Perry entered the the presidential contest was scheduled to be held at the same time as Obama’s speech. Leading Republicans accused the White House of attempting to drown out coverage of the debate. The White House insisted that it had no such intentions…. – Houston Chronicle, 8-31-11
  • Obama Jobs Speech Thursday Night: President Gives In To Boehner Over Congress Joint Session Address: After a vacuous back-and-forth over whether or not the president would be invited to address a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, Sept. 7, or Thursday, Sept. 8, the White House buckled to GOP demands and chose the latter date.
    White House Press Secretary Jay Carney emailed a statement to the press Wednesday evening, emphasizing that the administration had consulted GOP leadership before it requested to speak on Wednesday. But, he added, the president was willing to move the date back to accommodate House Speaker John Boehner’s concerns…. – Huff Post, 8-31-11
  • E.J. Dionne Jr.: Obama’s paradox problem: Call it the Party-of-Government Paradox: If the nation’s capital looks dysfunctional, it will come back to hurt President Obama and the Democrats, even if the Republicans are primarily responsible for the dysfunction.
    Then there is the Bipartisanship Paradox: No matter how far the president bends over backward to appeal to or appease the Republicans — no matter how nice, conciliatory, friendly or reasonable he tries to be — voters will judge him according to the results. And the evidence since 2009 is that accommodation won’t get Obama much anyway.
    This creates the Election Paradox: Up to a point, Republicans in Congress can afford to let their own ratings fall well below the president’s, as long as they drag him further into negative territory. If the president’s ratings are poor next year, Democrats won’t be able to defeat enough Republicans to take back the House and hold the Senate. The GOP can win if the mood is terribly negative toward Washington because voters see Obama as the man in charge…. – WaPo, 8-31-11

Full Text August 31, 2011: President Barack Obama & Speaker John Boehner Letter Exchange over Date for Obama’s Joint Session of Congress for Jobs Speech




President Barack Obama’s Letter to Congress


Speaker John Boehner’s Response to the Presidenthttps://historymusings.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/boehner_letter_obama_reply_8-31-11.jpg

Political Buzz August 31, 2011: Speaker John Boehner Requests that President Barack Obama Change September 7 Date for Obama’s Joint Session of Congress for Jobs Speech — Conflicts with GOP Presidential Candidates Debate


By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.




Full Text: President Barack Obama’s Letter to Congress & Speaker John Boehner’s Response

Obama requests joint session of Congress for jobs speech: President Obama has requested a joint session of Congress Sept. 7 at 8 p.m. ET to deliver a speech on jobs and the deficit, White House spokesman Dan Pfeiffer announced Tuesday via Twitter. A GOP presidential debate hosted by NBC and Politico is also scheduled that night.

“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.” — Obama wrote Wednesday in a letter to Boehner and Reid

“If they see one side not willing to work with the other to move the country forward, then that’s what elections are all about. So we’re going to be in a struggle for probably the next 16, 17 months.” — Obama said in an interview with talk radio host Tom Joyner this week

“Sen. Reid welcomes President Obama to address Congress any day of the week.” Adam Jentleson, a spokesman for Harry Reid, the Democratic Senate majority leader

“BarackObama request to give jobs speech the same night as GOP Presidential debate is further proof this WH is all politics all the time.” — Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus criticized Obama for seeking to schedule his address at the same time as a Republican presidential debate in the Reagan Library in California.

“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.” — White House spokesman Jay Carney

“The most immediate gain is he deflates a very big Republican balloon, which is that debate. It also imprints this with the kind of gravity that even a prime speech would not have. There is a ceremonial aspect to it that underscores the symbolic power of the presidency….
If you’re going to set a table for a state banquet, you better have a pretty elaborate meal.” — Ross Baker, a congressional expert at Rutgers University

“The risks are you are upping the ante, and it’s going to invite the response. All the action is in the reaction.” — Patrick Griffin, former White House legislative director under President Bill Clinton

    • Obama, Boehner spar on timing of big jobs speech: In a sudden political shoving match, President Barack Obama asked Congress to convene an extraordinary joint session next Wednesday to hear his much-anticipated proposals to put jobless Americans back to work, but House Speaker John Boehner balked and told the president he ought to wait and speak a day later.
      If Obama gets his way, his speech will upstage a Republican presidential debate scheduled for the same time. If Boehner prevails, the president’s address could conflict with the opening game of the National Football League season. There was no immediate resolution to the sparring match…. – AP, 8-31-11

“It is my intention to lay out a series of bipartisan proposals that the Congress can take immediately to continue to rebuild the American economy.
“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.” — President Obama in a letter to top congressional leaders

“It is my recommendation that your address be held on the following evening, September 8 when we can ensure there will be no parliamentary or logistical impediments that might detract from your remarks.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner Reply to President Obama

“It’s unfortunate the White House ignored decades — if not centuries — of the protocol of working out a mutually agreeable date and time before making any public announcement.” — Brendan Buck, a spokesman for the speaker, said no one had signed off on the date before Obama’s public request arrived

    • Obama, Boehner in test of wills on jobs speech: US President Barack Obama and his top Republican foe feuded over a date to debut a new White House jobs plan Wednesday, as trust between Washington’s most powerful men sank to a new low.
      Kicking off an extraordinary showdown, Obama asked for a rare joint session of Congress to unveil his new assault on 9.1 percent unemployment on September 7 — at the exact same time as a Republican presidential debate in California.
      Keen not to be outmaneuvered, House Speaker John Boehner wrote a public letter back to the president within four hours, saying logistical issues meant his preferred date was not available and offered the following night…. – AFP, 8-31-11
    • President Obama to Address Congress on Jobs and Economy on Sept. 7: President Obama is requesting a joint session of Congress for next Wednesday — at 8 p.m., exactly the same time as the scheduled Republican presidential debate, as it happens — to give a much anticipated speech outlining his proposals to boost employment and the economy.
      In a letter to the leaders of both houses of Congress on Wednesday, Mr. Obama said it is his “intention to lay out 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.”
      That Mr. Obama was going to make his speech next week was expected. But it is remarkable that he would choose to do so in such an elevated setting, and at the same time that Republican candidates for president will be laying out their own vision for how to get the country out of the economic doldrums. NYT, 8-31-11
    • Speech Stunt Backfires on Obama After Boehner Boxes Him In: House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has asked President Obama to address a joint-session of Congress on Thursday, Sept. 8, when it wouldn’t conflict with the Republican presidential debate.
      Citing logistical difficulties, Boehner requested that Obama hold his jobs address, which Obama wants to deliver next Wednesday, one day later.
      The Speaker’s letter made no mention of the more obvious conflict: between the president’s speech, and a Republican presidential debate scheduled on Wednesday night at 8 p.m. EST. That debate is the first of the post-Labor Day political season, and the first one in which Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) is set to participate.
      The response by Boehner sets up an early showdown between Obama and the Congress just returning from its August recess……. – Fox News, 8-31-11

“Once you decide you want to do a speech to Congress and you have to deal with congressional schedules … there are many other factors here. And 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.
There’s one president; there’s 20 some-odd debates…. The candidates might enjoy the prospect of responding to the president” — Press Secretary Jay Carney

“We’re thrilled that we now have a terrific opportunity to hear from national leaders of both major parties about the most pressing domestic issues facing the country.” — NBC and Politico joint statement

“President Obama’s decision to address Congress at the same time as a long-scheduled Republican presidential debate cements his reputation as campaigner-in-chief.” — Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus

    • GOP sees politics in timing of Obama speech: The White House says it’s “coincidental” that President Obama’s planned address to Congress next Wednesday conflicts with a debate for GOP presidential candidates. Others aren’t so sure.
      Just moments after the administration announced the president was requesting a rare joint-session address to roll out his long-awaited jobs plan, press secretary Jay Carney was peppered with questions about what some viewed as a curious bit of counter-programming…. – LAT, 8-31-11

“With the significant amount of time – typically more than three hours – that is required to allow for a security sweep of the House Chamber before receiving a President, 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.” — Speaker of the House John Boehner

“This turn of events offers a great opportunity for both the candidates and the audience of the debate. It raises the profile of the whole evening and in many ways makes it the first general election debate of the 2012 cycle.” — John F. Harris, Politico’s editor-in-chief and co-moderator for the debate

    • President Obama, Potential Opponents (Will Not) Compete for Air Time: Speaker of the House John Boehner has moved to prevent Obama from addressing the Congress on Wednesday Sept 7., asking for the speech to be delayed a day due to logisitical issues. Boehner wrote a letter to the president in which he said that because the House will not be in session until the day itself, and with a vote scheduled for 6:30 p.m., there will not be sufficient time for a thorough security sweep of the House chamber…. – Reuters, 8-31-11
    • After Boehner Rebuffs Obama, Email Sniping Begins: Partisan rancor was alive and well on Capitol Hill Wednesday, as staffers jockeyed to spin reporters on who has behaved more childishly
      On Wednesday afternoon, President Obama asked to address a joint session of Congress next Wednesday, the same night Republican presidential candidates are scheduled to hold a nationally televised debate. House Speaker John Boehner rejected him, proposing Thursday instead in his own letter back to the president. The House will open its session late in the day, and there might not be enough time for a pre-presidential security sweep of the Capitol, Boehner suggested…. – The Atlantic, 8-31-11
    • Reaction to White House speech big-footing: Politico has decided to air its debate following the president’s job speech on Sept. 7. The Republican contenders will have the opportunity to, in essence, test their rebuttal skills against the president. Whoever can use the opportunity to his or her advantage, not only bashing President Obama but showing how fit a competitor he or she would be, will get a nice boost…. – WaPo, 8-31-11

“Governor Perry looks forward to talking about his plans to get America working again. Another speech by President Obama will have no impact on the debate.” — Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s spokesman Mark Miner had this reaction via e-mail

“Next Wednesday night TV viewers will have a choice between Republican candidates talking about the future of America, or Barack Obama talking about the future of his presidency.” — Mitt Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul

Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann suggests President Obama fears the message she and the rest of the GOP candidates will deliver at a debate next week in California.
Bachmann spoke to a small crowd in a Des Moines park earlier this evening, telling the group Obama was showing his “insecurity” by trying to schedule an address to the nation on September 7. That’s the same night as the Republican candidate debate at the Reagan Library in California. According to Bachmann, Obama either wants to distract the American people or he doesn’t want the American people to hear the Republican candidates critique Obama’s job creation record.
“He hasn’t exactly delivered on his promises for jobs. Is that an understatement?” Bachmann asked the crowd, which let out a sort of collective grumble before she answered her own question with: “I think so.” — Politico, 8-31-11

“Speaker Boehner did the right thing, and we thank him for it. When this subject initially came up, it was Congressman Paul’s campaign who initiated talk of objecting to the President’s plan calling a joint session at this time and we are glad to see the Speaker of the House seize the initiative.
We needed an economic plan from the President two years ago, but he has waited far too long to assert any sort of true leadership. Instead President Obama has continued to play politics and not deal with the real issues this country faces.” — Ron Paul 2012 Campaign Chairman Jesse Benton

    • Paul Campaign Applauds Boehner for Requesting Change of Day for Obama Joint Session Speech Paul initiated talk of objecting to President’s call for a joint session: Today, the campaign of 2012 Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul released a statement applauding Speaker of the House John Boehner for requesting that President Obama change his plans for a joint session of Congress in order to give a speech laying out his economic plan on the same day as a Republican presidential debate. See comments from Paul campaign spokesman below…. – Marketwatch, 8-31-11

“It’s pretty blatant. As millions of Americans remain unemployed each month, President Obama has put put the nation on hold for his jobs plan so he could go on a taxpayer-funded campaign bus tour, go on vacation and then maximize the political timing of his speech.” — — A Republican operative sneered at the White House’s excuse that the timing conflict was inadvertent

  • Obama’s coming job-creation proposals already drawing fire: Under pressure to move the needle on the nation’s stubborn unemployment rate, President Barack Obama is expected to call next week for a package of job-creating proposals that include extending a payroll tax break for the middle class and rebuilding the nation’s aging bridges, roads, schools and airports.
    But with Democrats and Republicans in Congress at odds all year on how to create jobs, there’s little evidence that their impasse will break anytime soon…. – McClatchy Newspapers, 8-31-11
  • Obama-Boehner speech spat should worry Democrats: When you thought Washington couldn’t get any lower, now the two parties are squabbling over when the president can speak to Congress. The White House asked if President Obama could address a joint session on Sept. 7 at 8:00 p.m., the same night and time as the next Republican presidential debate. House Speaker John Boehner, citing scheduled votes that would make a security sweep before the president’s speech impossible, asked the White House to move the speech to Sept. 8. Should this even be a story at all? No, of course not, but the whole episode should still have Democrats concerned…. – WaPo, 8-31-11
  • No debating Obama’s hard-core move on jobs plan: That was one bad-ass move by President Obama. For weeks, MSNBC has been showing commercials for the first post-Labor Day presidential debate with all of the declared Republican candidates. Sept. 7 at 8 p.m. This afternoon, the White House announced the date and time when Obama would release his long-awaited jobs plan. Sept. 7 at 8 p.m.
    But, wait. There’s more. Obama will do it before a joint session of Congress. While the folks onstage at the Reagan Library try to look presidential in the eyes of viewers and voters, Obama’s address in the House chamber communicates clearly, “I AM the president of the United States.” Whether intentional or not — and I agree with The Fix, coincidences don’t happen in presidential politics — it’s a go-big maneuver…. – WaPo, 8-31-11
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