WASHINGTON -- 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.
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.
The argument between the White House and GOP leadership over the date of the joint address was, on a substantive level, pointless. "The whole thing is silly," an administration aide tells The Huffington Post. "We are fine with Thursday and would have proposed that to begin with if Boehner had told us Wednesday didn't work this morning. Why he didn't is just a mystery."
Democrats, however, will still view it as a microcosm of the larger disputes that have played out between the two parties, with Republican recalcitrance ultimately winning them concessions from the administration. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), at one point, pledged to oppose a unanimous consent agreement to invite the president to speak to Congress if the date remained Wednesday -- an objection that would have been historically unprecedented.
As it stands now, the Republican presidential field will have no rival broadcasting during its debate on Wednesday night. Obama, for his part, may avoid competing with the NFL season opener, which is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 8. A White House official says "We won't conflict with football," meaning an early time frame for the speech.
This article was updated with additional comments from the White House.