President Barack Obama will give his state of the union on Jan. 24, essentially launching his re-election year just as Republicans vote on which nominee they want to oust him from his job.
As tradition requires, House Speaker John Boehner invited the president to speak to a joint session of Congress. The White House accepted.
In a letter to the president, Boehner said Republicans "welcome the opportunity to hear your new ideas for working with Congress."
Obama is seeking re-election unopposed, but his address will fall between the pivotal South Carolina and Florida Republican presidential primaries.
The invitation also comes in the midst of a confrontational conclusion to the year's legislative work.
Obama and congressional Republicans are struggling to wrap up final business on spending bills and on an extension of a payroll tax cut before year's end.
Boehner said that as Congress and the White House try to accomplish all that, "we must also look ahead for new opportunities to put solutions before politics."
The speaker's office and the White House said they worked jointly to arrive at a date for the State of the Union speech. That contrasts with Obama's efforts in September to address Congress to pitch his jobs bill. At the time, Obama publicly asked for one date and Boehner countered by proposing another, leading to a test-of-wills between the president and the speaker. In the end, the president spoke on the day proposed by Boehner.