Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Will health care reform delay the state of the union address?

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The Constitution of the United States says the President “shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union”. Traditionally, this address was given twelve months after the President takes office, around January 20th. Our first President, George Washington, gave the first State of the Union address on January 8, 1790. Since 1934, every address has been given in January except when a President takes office from incidences other than the electoral process. In those incidences, the Address is given on the first February following taking office. Ronald Reagan was the only President to postpone his address set for January 28, 1981. Following the Challenger disaster, Reagan postponed the address for a week as the nation mourned the tragic event.

This year, President Obama may not give the State of the Union address until sometime after February 2, 2010. Any idea why, anyone, anyone, Bueller? The answer, President Obama wants to be able to tout a health care reform victory. Selected congressional representatives have returned to Washington early to work on reconciliation of the health care reform bill (less any Republicans) so they can get the process done before the end of the month self inflicted deadline. Critics say the fastest the bill could come out of the reconciliation process and get to both houses of Congress for a vote would be the end of January. Therefore, the White House is working on an early February date to give the address.

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