In State of the Union Invite, Boehner Still Looking for ‘Common Ground’ With Obama

The speaker has often repeated similar language in this formality.

President Obama and Speaker John Boehner during the State of the Union address on Feb. 12, 2013.
National Journal
Matt Vasilogambros
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Matt Vasilogambros
Dec. 13, 2013, 9:02 a.m.

House Speak­er John Boehner has been seek­ing com­mon ground with Pres­id­ent Obama for sev­er­al years, at least ac­cord­ing to his State of the Uni­on in­vit­a­tions.

For the third year of his ten­ure as speak­er, Boehner has in­cluded lan­guage call­ing for “com­mon ground” with the pres­id­ent in his of­fi­cial in­vit­a­tion to the White House. 

The in­vit­a­tion is just a form­al­ity, an­noun­cing the date of the ad­dress. But Boehner’s con­tin­ued writ­ten pleas for mu­tu­al un­der­stand­ing seem to sug­gest that he’s either still look­ing for it, or maybe that it doesn’t ex­ist. This year, both politi­cians have seen the floor fall out from un­der them.

The only time that Boehner did not in­clude the “com­mon ground” lan­guage was for last year’s State of the Uni­on, per­haps be­cause 2012 was a gen­er­al-elec­tion year.

Here are the three in­vit­a­tions from Boehner (em­phas­is ours):


As we round out the first ses­sion of the 113th Con­gress, we look ahead to the new year and with it the an­nu­al tra­di­tion of the pres­id­ent’s State of the Uni­on ad­dress. In the com­ing year, Amer­ic­ans ex­pect Wash­ing­ton to fo­cus on their pri­or­it­ies and to look for com­mon ground in ad­dress­ing the chal­len­ging fa­cing our coun­try. In that spir­it, we wel­come an op­por­tun­ity to hear your ideas, par­tic­u­larly for put­ting Amer­ic­ans back to work. It’s my hon­or to in­vite you to speak be­fore a Joint Ses­sion of Con­gress on Tues­day, Janu­ary 28, 2014 in the House Cham­ber of the U.S. Cap­it­ol Build­ing.

Thank you for your con­sid­er­a­tion, and I look for­ward to your re­sponse.


Our na­tion con­tin­ues to face im­mense chal­lenges, and the Amer­ic­an people ex­pect us to work to­geth­er in the new year to find mean­ing­ful solu­tions. This will re­quire a will­ing­ness to seek com­mon ground as well as pres­id­en­tial lead­er­ship. For that reas­on, the Con­gress and the Na­tion would wel­come an op­por­tun­ity to hear your plan and spe­cif­ic solu­tions for ad­dress­ing Amer­ica’s great chal­lenges. There­fore, it is my priv­ilege to in­vite you to speak be­fore a Joint Ses­sion of Con­gress on Feb­ru­ary 12, 2013 in the House Cham­ber of the U.S. Cap­it­ol Build­ing.


A new Con­gress provides us a re­newed op­por­tun­ity to find com­mon ground and ad­dress the pri­or­it­ies of the Amer­ic­an people. Our ac­tions must be driv­en by their de­sire for free­dom, eco­nom­ic re­cov­ery, and fisc­al sens­ib­il­ity, as well as a need to re­build the broken bonds of trust between the people and their gov­ern­ment. 

Re­cent events have re­minded us of the im­per­fect nature of our rep­res­ent­at­ive demo­cracy, but also how much we cher­ish the ideal that our gov­ern­ment ex­ists to serve the people. Even in the wake of tragedy, we must nev­er waiver from our ob­lig­a­tion to carry out their will and provide solu­tions to keep mov­ing our na­tion for­ward.

As many great chal­lenges lie ahead for our na­tion, we wel­come an op­por­tun­ity to hear your pro­pos­als. There­fore, I am honored to in­vite you to of­fer an ad­dress on the State of the Uni­on on Janu­ary 25, 2011, be­fore a Joint Ses­sion of Con­gress. 

Thank you for your con­sid­er­a­tion, and I look for­ward to your re­sponse.

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