Obama to address joint session of Congress on healthcare

The president is going all out for his big speech on reform

Published September 2, 2009 7:45PM (EDT)

The White House is apparently not kidding around with its new strategy to regain the upper hand in the fight over healthcare reform.

President Obama's big speech on healthcare, intended to restart the debate in Congress and nationally, won't be your run of the mill affair. Instead, he's going to address a joint session of Congress -- that is, both the House and the Senate -- next Wednesday, Sept. 9th, in prime-time.

There'll be a lot of pressure on him with this speech, of course. It could end up as a big win, but with the debate having gone badly for Democrats recently, he'll be watched closely on this one. Plus, you can expect Republicans to pitch a fit, and if their claims end up holding water after the address, this could turn out to be a net loss.

Update: Real Clear Politics' Mike Memoli offers a sobering reminder to supporters of reform: On Sept. 22, 1993, almost exactly 16 years before Obama will address Congress, then-President Clinton gave his own speech to a joint session. Obviously, it didn't end with a successful reform effort. That said, though, Clinton gave his speech earlier in the process, and his administration's efforts never got as far in committee as the current proposals have.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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Barack Obama Healthcare Reform U.s. House Of Representatives U.s. Senate War Room