Obama to Address Congress Next Wednesday

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Updated 4:22 p.m. ET

President Obama plans to address a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, Sept. 9th, a senior official tells CBS News.

The time for Mr. Obama's speech, which is to focus on health care reform, is not known. The White House has not yet made a formal announcement about the address, though a confirmation is expected shortly.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid sent a letter formally inviting the president to give the address Wednesday afternoon.

This will be the president's second address to Congress. His first came on the evening of Feb 24th, 2009, when he gave a speech on the economy.

That speech ran nearly 52 minutes, reports CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller.

The president has been criticized for being insufficiently specific about what he wants health care reform to look like. Though has offered details about the provisions he is seeking in a series of speeches in recent months, Mr. Obama has left it to Congress to work out the legislative language. A CBS News poll this week showed disenchantment with the president's handling of the issue.

Yesterday, senior advisor David Axelrod said the president may become "more prescriptive" about what he wants from a health care bill, which the White House has asked Congress to produce by September 15th.

The White House has been "taken aback by the ferocity of opposition to its health care plan as expressed to members of Congress of both parties during their town meetings last month with constituents," Knoller reports.

The president arguably lost control of the health care debate amid the town halls and overheated rhetoric this summer, suggests CBS News political director Steve Chaggaris. Chaggaris said Mr. Obama is now seeking to reclaim his message about why health care reform is necessary and clarify what he wants.

"By doing it in front of a joint session of Congress on prime time television only amplifies that message, not only to Americans but to members of Congress, especially senators, who remain bogged down in their efforts to move a bill forward," said Chaggaris.

Members return from their summer recess on September 8th, the day before the planned address.

Then-President Bill Clinton addressed a joint session of Congress on September 22, 1993 as part of his failed effort to reform health care.

"Some people have said that it would be a miracle if we passed health care reform," he said then. "But, my fellow Americans, I believe we live in a time of great change when miracles do happen."

CBSNews.com Special Report: Health Care

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