updated 1/11/2011 3:59:55 PM ET 2011-01-11T20:59:55

The leader of the U.S. House of Representatives has invited President Barack Obama to deliver the State of the Union speech to a joint session of Congress on Jan. 25, the first opportunity for the president to address the full assembly of lawmakers under new divided government.

The address is typically an opportunity for the president to lay out an agenda for the year, charting a course for domestic and foreign policy.

In a letter to Obama obtained by the Associated Press, House Speaker John Boehner acknowledged this weekend's Arizona shooting that left six dead and 14 injured, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was critically wounded.

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Boehner wrote that "even in the wake of tragedy, we must never waver from our obligation to carry out their will and provide solutions to keep moving our nation forward."

The date for the speech was reached in consultations between the speaker's office and the White House.

The address will be Obama's second State of the Union speech, but his fourth address to a joint session of the House and Senate.

'You lie!'
Obama's appearances before Congress have not been without drama.

Obama's speech to Congress on health care in September 2009 prompted Rep. Joe Wilson, a Republican, to shout "You lie!" at the president. In his State of the Union address last year, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito caused a stir by mouthing the words "Not true" when Obama describe a court decision on campaign finance.

This year's speech will be before a divided Congress, the result of November elections that gave Republicans control of the House of Representatives. The Senate remains in the hands of Democrats, but they have a smaller majority.

In his letter, Boehner says the new Congress provides "a renewed opportunity to find common ground and address the priorities of the American people."

"Our actions must be driven by their desire for freedom, economic recovery, and fiscal sensibility, as well as a need to rebuild the broken bonds of trust between the people and their government," he wrote.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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