President’s Joe Biden’s first address to a joint session of Congress is still not scheduled, his chief of staff indicated Tuesday.
“I think we wanted to get through this rescue plan first and get it done and get it passed. Then we’re going to go to the country, we’re going to take a couple of weeks to really explain the plan,” White House chief of staff Ron Klain said during a video interview with Punchbowl News.
“I think shortly after that you’ll see him work with the Congress on a joint address that is appropriate for COVID and all of these other times we are living in,” he added.
Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package passed both the House of Representatives and the Senate this month, but the House is voting on it again on Wednesday because the Senate altered several key provisions.
Presidents typically deliver State of the Union speeches during the month after being sworn in, but Biden has not done so, along with upsetting the tradition of holding an early formal press conference.
Asked why Congress hasn’t yet invited Biden to deliver a speech, White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters last week that “it’s not a snubbing happening here.”
“And, of course, any joint session speech would look different than the past,” she added. “We certainly intend on the president delivering a joint session speech—joint session, not a State of the Union—in the first year that they are in office. But we don’t have a date for that or a timeline at this point in time, and we’ve been engaged closely with leaders in Congress about determining that.”
Psaki has said that Biden will hold his first formal press conference by the end of March.
He has now gone longer without holding one than every predecessor in some 100 years.
Psaki said Biden has been focusing on dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and an economic downturn.
Biden has answered questions from reporters dozens of times, though he often stops answering after several queries.
Klain indicated Tuesday that there’s little to explain in terms of the administration’s early actions.
“We have governed the way we campaigned. I don’t think there have been any big surprises about what we’ve done in these 48 days,” he said.
Among priorities moving forward, he added, are infrastructure and caregiver packages, following the expected passage and signing of the COVID-19 relief bill.