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US Congress: Visits by the President
Tom Gray asks "Doesn't the President have to be formally invited by the Congress in order to appear there? Has this or any other President ever appeared on the floor accompanying another head of state?" Mary Huyck said, I believe correctly, that for security reasons the President and Vice-President do not appear together. Now she adds: " More on the subject of why President Bush was not present when Blair addressed Congress. I was speaking with a friend of mine, Kay Maxwell, national President of the League of Women Voters. I posed the query to her as to why Bush was not there, and she believes that it is all about protocol and the separation of the legislative and executive branches of government. According to Kay, the President does not usually enter the Capitol except when he gives the State of the Union address or other major speech before a joint meeting of the Senate and House of Representatives. Blair's speech last week came at the invitation of Congress, not the President. Kay thinks that it would be deemed inappropriate for Bush to have been there. I wondered whether FDR was present when Churchill made his famous address to Congress during WWII. She is not sure, but she suspects that he was not".
RH: I said I thought it went back to the monarch not entering the House of Commons. Shades of Cromwell! But now we have two more questions. Why was the invitation not issued by Blair's pal, President Bush? My guess is that Bush could invite Blair to come to the US. but the Congress had to invite him to speak. Despite all the publicity, it was not I think a state visit, which involves parading soldiers, bands, etc. The medal (?) Blair received was given by the President. I suppose the Congressional Medal of Honor is given by Congress. Perhaps Kay Maxwell can answer these questions..
Ronald Hilton - 7/20/03