President Barack Obama invited all members of Congress to the White House this week, but House Speaker John Boehner is dispatching only 18 of his 232 members to the meeting, Boehner’s office said.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the meetings, divided along party lines and chamber, were designed to provide an opportunity for Obama to explain his position directly to lawmakers and to hear their thoughts. A Boehner spokesman said the House GOP meeting, scheduled for Thursday, “is only worthwhile if it is focused on finding a solution” to the ongoing government shutdown and the looming debt-ceiling crisis.
The spokesman, Brendan Buck, said the House GOP is sending a group of “negotiators,” including the elected conference leadership and selected committee chairs. “It is our hope that this will be a constructive meeting and that the president finally recognizes Americans expect their leaders to be able to sit down and resolve their differences,” Buck said.
Republicans hope to force the White House’s hand on negotiating over reopening the government and raising the debt limit. Obama has said he will not negotiate on larger budget issues until Republicans first take action to move past the standoff, while Republicans are demanding a negotiated solution to both fiscal crises.
“President Obama is disappointed that Speaker Boehner is preventing his members from coming to the White House,” Carney said in a statement. “The President thought it was important to talk directly with the members who forced this economic crisis on the country about how the shutdown and a failure to pay the country’s bills could devastate the economy.”
House Democrats will meet with Obama on Wednesday afternoon at the White House.
The list of House GOP attendees via, Boehner’s office: