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Congress sets Obama state of union speech for Feb 12

US President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address on January 24, 2012 in Washington, DC
US President Barack Obama receives applause as he delivers his State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress January 24, 2012 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. US President Barack Obama will give his annual "state of the union" speech to

US President Barack Obama will give his annual "state of the union" speech to Congress on February 12, the White House said Friday.

The administration agreed to House Speaker John Boehner's formal invitation to the president to address both chambers of Congress barely three weeks after Obama is sworn in to begin his second four-year term in the White House.

"Our nation continues to face immense challenges, and the American people expect us to work together in the new year to find meaningful solutions," Boehner wrote in his letter to Obama.

"This will require a willingness to seek common ground as well as presidential leadership. For that reason, the Congress and the nation would welcome an opportunity to hear your plan and specific solutions for addressing America's great challenges."

Obama's Democrats and their rival Republicans, led by Boehner and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, are deadlocked over how to resolve swirling fiscal crises that threaten the unsteady US economic recovery.

The country will hit its $16.4 trillion borrowing limit around the end of February, the same time Congress must also come up with a way to avoid more than $100 billion in federal spending cuts that are set to kick in.

McConnell has accused Obama of a "massive spending addiction" and has threatened to use the debt ceiling as leverage in Republican efforts to cut government expenditure, while the president has warned against such "dangerous" brinkmanship.

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