House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has invited President Obama to deliver his annual State of the Union address on Feb. 12.
“Our nation continues to face immense challenges, and the American people expect us to work together in the new year to find meaningful solutions,” Boehner wrote in a letter to Obama on Friday. “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.”
The speech will mark Obama’s fourth State of the Union and his seventh time addressing a joint session of Congress.
It comes just as the debate on Capitol Hill is ramping up again over a trio of contentious issues – funding the federal government, raising the debt ceiling and averting the across-the-board spending cuts known as the "sequester." The Bipartisan Policy Center issued a report earlier this week stating that the U.S. may default on its debt as soon as Feb. 15 – three days after the scheduled State of the Union date.
That means that the annual address by the president could serve as a moment for both parties to further delineate the battle lines over the federal budget rather than to join together in a spirit of bipartisanship, as they did at the State of the Union Obama delivered shortly after the January 2011 shooting rampage in Tucson, Ariz. At that time, lawmakers of both parties sat shoulder-to-shoulder in the House chamber.
The White House did not immediately respond to Boehner’s invitation – and if there was any lesson to be learned in the August 2011 kerfuffle over the scheduling of Obama’s jobs speech, it was that the dates for big presidential addresses are not set in stone until both sides have weighed in.