Boehner, McConnell skipping state dinner with Chinese leader

Three top congressional leaders are skipping a state dinner for Chinese President Hu Jintao in what may be perceived by China as a snub.

House Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerFormer top Treasury official to head private equity group GOP strategist Steve Schmidt denounces party, will vote for Democrats Zeal, this time from the center MORE (R-Ohio), Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidAmendments fuel resentments within Senate GOP Donald Trump is delivering on his promises and voters are noticing Danny Tarkanian wins Nevada GOP congressional primary MORE (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellPolitical figures pay tribute to Charles Krauthammer Charles Krauthammer dies at the age of 68 Overnight Energy: EPA declines to write new rule for toxic spills | Senate blocks move to stop Obama water rule | EPA bought 'tactical' pants and polos MORE (R-Ky.) all said "thanks, but no thanks" to White House invitations for the dinner.

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Reid and BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerFormer top Treasury official to head private equity group GOP strategist Steve Schmidt denounces party, will vote for Democrats Zeal, this time from the center MORE are expected to meet with Hu during a separate meeting Thursday on Capitol Hill.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), a vocal critic of China on human-rights issues, is attending the state dinner, only the third thrown by President Obama.

An aide to Reid said the majority leader is flying back from Nevada to Washington on Wednesday so he can meet with Hu on Thursday.

An aide to McConnell said the GOP leader could not make the dinner because he has a series of events in Kentucky. The Senate is in recess this week.

The White House on Tuesday indicated it wanted congressional leaders to attend the dinner. “We hope that because of the importance of the relationship that they would attend,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said.

He said he did not know why Boehner declined the invitation.

Boehner offered a “diplomatic answer” to a question about why he declined the invitation while speaking to reporters on Wednesday, according to a report by ABC News.

“Without accepting most of that question, the president of China is coming to the Hill on Thursday. We’re going to meet with him in a bipartisan fashion and I look forward to seeing him in the future.”