Jen Psaki Walks Back Planned Joe Biden Speech to Congress in February

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden put on a mask after he spoke on November job numbers at the Queen theater December 4, 2020 Wilmington, Delaware. U.S. economy added 245,000 jobs in November and pushed the unemployment rate to 6.7% from 6.9% in October. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Alex Wong/Getty Images

White House press secretary Jen Psaki pushed back on the idea that President Joe Biden would deliver an address to Congress in February, despite the president himself previewing the timing of the speech.

“Next month, in my first appearance before a joint session of Congress, I will lay out my Build Back Better recovery plan,” Biden read from prepared remarks on January 14 in a speech to the nation about fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

Typically an American president delivers his first address to Congress in February after the presidential election. Former President Donald Trump’s first address to Congress took place on February 28, 2017.

Asked by reporters about the timing of Biden’s speech, Psaki denied that the date had ever been set for February.

“We don’t know where the Feb. 23rd date came from,” she replied. “It’s a great mystery. I’ve not Nancy Drew’d that one out today, but it was never planned to be in February and we don’t have a date for a joint session at this point.”

Psaki said the “inaccurate date” of Feb. 23 “created some confusion” in the media about the speech.

“Obviously the president looks forward to speaking to a joint session,” she said. “We just don’t have a date yet for when that will be and obviously that will look different because of COVID.”

But it appears that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may have put the brakes on the timing of the speech.

Pelosi told reporters last week that she would not invite Biden to speak until Congress had passed a new coronavirus relief bill.

“We won’t be doing any of that until we pass our COVID bill. That’s the first order of business,” Pelosi said during a news conference last Thursday.



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