US House speaker declines request for Kenyan President to address Congress

Kenya President, Mr. William Ruto will not address a joint session of Congress in his upcoming State visit to the United States.

This is after Speaker Mike Johnson rejected a request from a section of Democrat lawmakers who had asked him to invite President Ruto to make the address.

In a statement on Saturday, Speaker Johnson’s deputy chief of staff Raj Shah said the decision not to invite Ruto to address a joint session of congress was due to scheduling constraints.

“Speaker Johnson welcomes President Ruto to the Capitol. We have offered the Kenyan embassy over 90 minutes of engagement including a one-on-one visit with Speaker Johnson, bipartisan leadership meeting with Speaker Johnson, Leader Jeffries, and Committee Chairmen and Ranking members, and a bicameral meeting.

“Unfortunately, due to scheduling restraints, we could not accommodate a request for remarks before a Joint Session,” reads the statement.

Ruto would have been the first Kenyan leader to speak before a joint meeting of Congress and the first African leader to do so since Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in 2006.

A formal request had been issued to the United States Speaker of the House of Representatives to invite Ruto for the adress by House Foreign Affairs Committee Member Gregory Meeks and Committee Chairman Michael McCaul.

In a letter to the Speaker, the legislators wrote: “We are writing to respectfully request that you extend a formal invitation to the President of the Republic of Kenya, His Excellency William Samoei Ruto, to address a joint session of Congress on his official visit to the United States.”

According to the Congressional Research Service, a joint meeting of Congress is generally held when a prominent individual, often a foreign leader, is invited to address the House and Senate simultaneously.

Because addressing a joint meeting of Congress is available by invitation only, agreement on whom to invite and when they will speak is generally reached between the House and the Senate.

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