US & Canada

Obama reschedules Congress speech after Boehner objects

US President Barack Obama
Image caption Mr Obama's jobs plan is expected to include tax incentives to boost hiring and public works projects

President Barack Obama has agreed to reschedule a Congressional speech on the economy, after objections from House Speaker John Boehner.

President Obama wanted to outline his much-anticipated jobs creation plan next Wednesday evening, but that clashed with a Republican debate.

Mr Boehner requested Mr Obama speak a day later instead, and the White House has agreed to his recommendation.

US unemployment - still over 9% - could dominate 2012's presidential elections.

The White House had earlier insisted the scheduling clash with a televised Republican 2012 debate at the Ronald Reagan Library in California next Wednesday evening was "coincidental".

But several Republican leaders said the timing was a political move to steal the show.

'Logistical impediments'

There were concerns that moving the primetime speech to 8 September could see it go head to head with the NFL game between the Green Bay Packers and the New Orleans Saints.

The White House said on Thursday that the speech would begin at 19:00 EDT (23:00 GMT) and finish before kick-off.

The Republican-controlled House and the Senate, where Democrats hold sway, need to pass resolutions allowing the joint Congressional session for the president.

"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," Mr Obama had said in his letter to Congressional leaders on Wednesday.

"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."

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said President Obama would be welcome "any day of the week".

But Mr Boehner had replied recommending Mr Obama's speech take place instead a day later.

He did not mention the Republican debate as a reason, citing instead votes scheduled for the House's first day back after recess and the need for a subsequent three-hour security sweep.

Mr Boehner wrote to the 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."

'Politics all the time'

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus tweeted that the initial scheduling of the speech had proved "this WH is all politics all the time".

Image caption The House Speaker's office accused the White House of ignoring established protocol

Mr Boehner's spokesman Brendan Buck accused the White House of ignoring established protocol and said no-one in the speaker's office had signed off on the date.

The reschedule was confirmed in a statement by White House press secretary Jay Carney on Wednesday evening.

"We consulted with the Speaker about that date before the letter was released, but he determined Thursday would work better," said Mr Carney.

"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."

Mr Obama's speech is expected to contain specific proposals, including both tax incentives to increase hiring and government spending on public works projects.

The president has already said he would seek extensions on a payroll tax cut for workers, as well as benefits for the unemployed.

Joint sessions are usually reserved for the State of the Union address.