President Obama has asked to address a joint session of Congress on September 7th at 8 p.m. (ET) to outline his much-anticipated jobs plan, the exact same time that Republican Presidential candidates are scheduled to participate in a televised debate. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said today that the timing was purely “coincidental.”
“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 today’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. The debate, co-hosted by Politico, is slated to air live on MSNBC.
Asked if the White House was concerned that their timing would upset Nancy Reagan, Carney said only that “the sponsors of the debate… control the timing of it. They can make a decision based on how they want to handle this.”
As for the president’s choice of venue, Carney said that it is “appropriate” for Obama to address Congress because lawmakers will need to work together to take the steps necessary to create jobs.
“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 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. 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 said in a letter of request to Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
“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,” the president wrote.
According to Carney, Boehner and Reid have not yet accepted the president’s request to address a joint session.