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House Speaker John Boehner channels inner Nancy Reagan, Just Says No to Obama

UPDATED 7:51 p.m. ET
President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner CBS

House Speaker John Boehner channeled his inner Nancy Reagan Wednesday and Just Said No to President Obama's request to lay out his jobs plan to a joint session of Congress the same day as the Republican presidential debate co-hosted by the former first lady at the Reagan library. The speaker suggested instead that the speech take place the following day, September 8.

"With the significant amount of time - typically more than three hours - that is required to allow for a security sweep of the House Chamber before receiving a 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," Boehner wrote in a letter to President Obama after his request earlier in the day that he make the speech Sept. 7 at 8:00 p.m ET.

President Obama said he wanted to address a joint session of Congress the evening of September 7 to lay out his vision for creating jobs. The White House said late Wednesday that it had reached out to Boehner's office in an effort to resolve the dispute.
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"Our nation faces unprecedented economic challenges, and millions of hardworking Americans continue to look for jobs," Mr. Obama wrote in a formal letter to Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that was released Wednesday morning.

The debate among the eight GOP candidates is set to take place at the Ronald Reagan presidential library in Simi Valley, California and is jointly hosted with POLITICO and NBC News. Cable channel MSNBC plans to carry the debate live at 8:00 p.m. ET Sept. 7. Debate organizers announced after Obama's request that they would go ahead with the debate at their previously scheduled time.

Boehner's proposed date may not be ideal for the White House or NBC. The NFL's opening game between the Green Bay Packers and the New Orleans Saints is scheduled to be played the evening of Sept. 8 and broadcast on NBC.

Asked about the time conflict, White House spokesman Jay Carney called it "coincidental."

Prior to his announcement, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh urged Boehner to reject the proposed date and offer an alternative date before or after next Wednesday.

"Speaker Boehner must say no to this request. He can say no to this. It is up to the Speaker of House. The president just can't say 'I'm showing up. Put everybody in the audience, I'm coming over to make a speech.' Boehner can say no this. He should say no," Limbaugh said, urging Boehner to say "here are the dates that you can have. September 6,8,9 or 10, you pick one, otherwise no joint session."

A senior White House aide told CBS News White House Correspondent Norah O'Donnell the White House did let the Speaker's office know about the time request before it was announced, and Boehner's office did not raise an objection to the timing.

An aide to Boehner told CBS News the White House only informed the Speaker's office fifteen minutes before they released the formal letter to reporters.

Asked about the assertion that the Speaker's office did not object to the date, Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck told CBS' Jill Jackson that is "not true."

"No one in the Speaker's office - not the Speaker, not any staff - signed off on the date the White House announced today. Unfortunately we weren't even asked if that date worked for the House. Shortly before it arrived this morning, we were simply informed that a letter was coming. It's unfortunate the White House ignored decades - if not centuries - of the protocol of working out a mutually agreeable date and time before making any public announcement," Buck said.

Asked on Twitter soon after the request was made public if Boehner and Reid had accepted the offer, White House Press Secretary wrote that he had not yet gotten a response. "We just submitted this letter. I have not heard from them yet," Carney wrote from his official Twitter stream @PressSec.

A senior Democratic aide called Boehner's office's behavior "childish" and "truly historic."

"The childish behavior coming out of the speaker's office today is truly historic," the aide said. "It is unprecedented to reject the date that a President wants to address a joint session of the Congress. People die and state funerals are held with less fuss, so the logistics excuse by the Speaker's office is laughable. Yes, consultation always occurs, but the president always gets the date he wants."

According to several sources with knowledge of how these sessions are generally handled, the logistical details are typically worked out in advance of any public announcement. Negotiations over dates and times generally take place behind closed doors and a public dispute over such details is uncommon. The public spat marks a sharp contrast to Mr. Obama's State of the Union in January, when lawmakers paired up with a member of the opposite party to sit together as a way to show unity and heal Congress's increasingly divisive rhetoric.
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