House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, rebuked some of his fellow Republicans on Thursday who have chosen to boycott President Obama's speech to a joint session of Congress. Boehner said he hoped for “common ground” with the White House on job creation.
“He is the president of the United States, and I believe that all members ought to be here,” Boehner said. “As an institution, the president’s coming at our invitation. We ought to be respectful, and we ought to welcome him.”
Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill., was the first to announce his boycott last week, saying on Twitter that he did not want to be a “prop” for Obama’s speech. The AP reports that Walsh accused Obama of abusing his power by asking to address a joint session of Congress, a move that should be reserved for more “momentous” topics.
Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., a member of the Senate Tea Party Caucus, is also boycotting the speech. He told ABC News he planned to skip it because of his frustration with the president’s policies. “I can’t imagine too many Americans wanting to hear another speech with no real plan attached,” he said.
Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga., also said he will skip the address, but will watch it from his office and host a live Twitter town hall about the president’s remarks. Broun also skipped Obama’s State of the Union address in January, choosing to provide his own commentary via Twitter.
And GOP presidential hopeful Ron Paul said through a spokesman that he doesn’t plan to attend the speech, but did not give a reason. His son, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., would only say tentatively that he plans to attend, “unless something changes.”
In part to ensure that senators attend the address, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., scheduled a symbolic vote on the resolution of disapproval of President Obama's request to raise the debt ceiling for shortly after the speech.
Sen. David Vitter, R-La., originally said he would skip the address, but for reasons that are far from political—he doesn’t want to miss a football game. Vitter told Fox News onWednesday that instead of attending the speech, he will throw a party to watch the New Orleans Saints take on the Green Bay Packers in the NFL season opener. “As a fanatic, I have my priorities,” he said.
However, the symbolic vote might cause Vitter to miss his football party. He tweeted, "Reid ensure I'll miss my Saints party at home. Don't worry—only strengthens my Who Dat resolve. On 2 the Super Bowl!"
This article appears in the September 8, 2011, edition of National Journal Daily PM Update.