Biden contradicts WH press secretary on message of school reopenings
The president says reports of reopening schools only one day a week ‘was a mistake in communication.
The White House has not yet scheduled a date for President Biden to deliver his first address to a joint session of Congress — even though the president had suggested it would take place this month.
Presidents have traditionally given a speech to Congress during their first year in office, often in February. An address to a joint session of Congress is like a State of the Union, though it technically is not called that until the president’s second year in office.
Biden suggested last month he would discuss his coronavirus agenda during an address this month.
“Next month, in my first appearance before a joint session of Congress, I will lay out my ‘Build Back Better’ recovery plan,” Biden said on Jan. 14.
But White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday told reporters that while the president “looks forward” to making the address, the White House has not scheduled when that will take place.
“Obviously the president looks forward to speaking to a joint session,” Psaki said. “We just don’t have a date yet for when that will be and obviously it will look different because of COVID and because we want to be safe and project that the safety and our responsibility of projecting that to the American public.”
Presidents, during their first congressional address, tend to establish the tone of their new administration, with optimistic language to look ahead, and to set their legislative agenda as well as outline their positions on a range of policy issues.
Biden, though, since taking office has signed dozens of executive orders, actions and directives, with Biden officials telling Fox News that the moves are “previews” of the agenda items the president will push in Congress. They have been focused on environmental regulations, the climate crisis, immigration policies, racial justice, health care and more.
But a Biden White House ally told Fox News that the president’s actions are a taste of what the administration will push in Congress.
“The executive actions are previews, and happening in parallel, to what he is pushing in Congress,” the source told Fox News. “These are the things he can do instantly, but show what he is going to pursue, and in some cases, already is pursuing, in Congress.”
Biden has already pushed his $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan coronavirus package to Capitol Hill– the House is expected to take up the legislation later this month. And this week, Psaki said gun control is a “priority” for the president, though he has not formally proposed legislation to Congress.
Typically, new presidents deliver their addresses just weeks after the inauguration.
Former President George H.W. Bush delivered one of the earliest addresses to a joint session, taking place on Feb. 9, 1989. Former President Trump delivered one of the latest—his address was on Feb. 28, 2017.
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Former President Barack Obama delivered his address on Feb. 24, 2009; former President George W. Bush delivered his on Feb. 27, 2001; and former President Bill Clinton delivered his on Feb. 17.
Should Biden’s address slip into March, it would be the latest Joint Session address in decades.
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