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 BoehnerRyan reminds lawmakers to be on time for votes Juan Williams: GOP fumbles on healthcare The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (R-Ohio), Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidWarren cautions Dems against infighting Dems see surge of new candidates Dems to grind Senate to a halt over ObamaCare repeal fight MORE (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellGOP at decisive moment on Planned Parenthood Opioid crisis threatens GOP ObamaCare repeal Trump making calls to senators on healthcare bill MORE (R-Ky.) all said "thanks, but no thanks" to White House invitations for the dinner.

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Reid and BoehnerJohn BoehnerRyan reminds lawmakers to be on time for votes Juan Williams: GOP fumbles on healthcare The Hill's 12:30 Report 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.”