Top 10 Presidential Speeches to a Joint Session of Congress

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Introduction

President Obama will unveil his jobs plan Thursday night in his second speech before a joint session of Congress (not counting his two State of the Union addresses and the address he delivered shortly after being sworn in). It's a dramatic setting presidents use to command public and congressional attention, attempt to win support for major policy initiatives and rally the nation behind a unifying cause.

Obama used his first address (delivered on Sept. 9, 2009) to make the case for the health care reform legislation that he signed into law on March 23, 2010. And though the health care debate was at times searing, this second speech before a joint session comes at a much more perilous time for a president who has seen his approval ratings drop amid a prolonged economic downturn marked by painfully high unemployment.

Still, presidents often turn to the joint session of Congress as a way to shift the narrative and the political momentum. As Obama prepares to do just that Thursday night and make the case for his economic plan, we take a look back at some of the most notable (non-State of the Union) presidential addresses before a joint session of Congress in American history (for our list of the top State of the Union addresses, click here).

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