- The Washington Times - Friday, January 23, 2009

President Obama will address a joint session of Congress next month, though the speech may not be dubbed an official State of the Union.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, speaking to reporters for his second press briefing since the new administration came to power, said it is “likely” the president will speak to Congress “sometime in February, I don’t believe that we’ve got a date nailed down.”

He joked that networks were interested in the timing because of sweeps week.

He said he knew that top television bosses “are interested in how that coincides with ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ and I don’t mean Congress.”

He also announced Mr. Obama will hold an economic meeting in the White House Saturday.

Mr. Gibbs said Mr. Obama will travel to Capitol Hill to address the House and Senate Republican caucuses to further solicit their ideas for economic stimulus.

As reporters pressed him on the White House measure of bipartisanship given some Republican complaints about the size of the proposed package, Mr. Gibbs demurred.

He said the legislative process is a “long and winding road that we assume will continue until we get a package that Congress passes and the president signs.”

“This is a work in progress,” he said. “It didn’t end today, it didn’t start today.”

He said the president told the congressional leaders he met with Friday morning to call the White House or his Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, a former member of the House, with their ideas.

Mr. Gibbs said Mr. Obama spoke Friday morning with three foreign leaders — Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

At the close of the meeting reporters asked him for the Friday tradition of week-ahead guidance, and Mr. Gibbs looked surprised, saying he wasn’t aware of the tradition.

He gave a sense of the president’s Saturday schedule, noted the weekly radio address “will happen,” and promised next Friday he’d stick to the tradition.

“My former colleagues neglected to tell me of your Friday traditions,” Mr. Gibbs said.

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