By Molly K. Hooper - 12/18/09 12:45 AM EST
Two House Republicans said the White House broke protocol by not inviting them to Vice President Joe Biden’s speech on Thursday in their home state of Georgia.
Biden appeared on Thursday with Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue (R) to tout the effects of the stimulus law in Rep. Nathan Deal’s (R-Ga.) district.
“Had Congressman Deal been invited to this event, he most certainly would have made every effort to attend. Unfortunately, he was not given this opportunity, and is disappointed by that fact,” Deal’s spokeswoman Stephanie Mayfield said.
Deal told The Hill on Wednesday night that “I’ve just heard vague talk about it — it’s apparently going to be held in my district — but to my knowledge, I have not been officially invited.”
Deal’s Georgia colleague, GOP Rep. Paul Broun, whose neighboring district will also be affected by Biden’s announcement of stimulus dollars going into broadband development, said that he had not been invited either.
On Monday night, the White House legislative affairs office notified members of the Georgia delegation that Biden would “be in Georgia this Thursday in support of an [American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009] announcement,” according to an e-mail obtained by The Hill. The e-mail did not provide details on which district Biden would be visiting.
Every House Republican, including Deal and Broun, voted against the stimulus.
Even though Deal and Broun did not attend, Biden made a point of highlighting Thursday’s event as bipartisan.
A press release put out by the White House stated, “At an event at Impulse Manufacturing in Dawsonville, Georgia, with Governor Sonny Perdue (R-GA), [Biden] announced an initial $183 million investment in eighteen broadband projects benefiting seventeen states which has already been matched by over $46 million in public and private sector capital.”
Biden said, “This is what the Recovery Act is all about — sparking new growth, tapping into the ingenuity of the American people and giving folks the tools they need to help build a new economy in the 21st century.”
Perdue has been pushing for additional funding for the broadband expansion, Perdue spokesman Bert Brantley said, noting that states were eligible to apply for stimulus dollars earlier this year.
Even though Perdue was not cheerleading when the $787 billion stimulus bill was approved in February, the Democrat-turned-Republican accepted recovery dollars to help with Medicaid and other projects in the state.
Appearing with Biden to highlight the stimulus could hamper Perdue politically because the $787 billion bill has been cited as a litmus test for conservatives. Florida Gov. Charlie Crist’s appearance with President Barack Obama on the stimulus earlier this year has been used against him in his GOP primary for the Senate.
Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, attacked Biden’s appearance in the Peach Tree State.
In a press release, Price said, “This administration is on an epic spending binge that is going to result in one serious fiscal hangover. Joe Biden would have us believe he is Santa Claus today, but he’ll look like the Grinch who stole Christmas when the stimulus bill comes due.”
Price did not mention Perdue in his statement.
Russell Riley, presidential scholar at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, said that “under normal circumstances, the first thing that the White House routinely does if the president or vice president is going into a district would be to check with the member of Congress.”
Obama apologized last spring when the White House did not invite GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher to a town hall meeting held in the lawmaker’s Southern California district.
At that time, Obama told the crowd that “it was a screw-up on our part. So I wanted to let him know we’re sorry about that. And I want everybody to give him a big round of applause. It’s his district.”
The vice president’s office did not comment for this article.
A Republican aide said, “It has been customary that when a president, vice president or Cabinet official travels to a member’s district, that member is given proper advance notice of the visit. It has also been customary for that member to be invited to the event by the administration regardless of party affiliation. In fact, if it occurred during a time when members were in session, they were invited to fly down with the president or vice president. Often, this included the entire Georgia delegation.”
It is unclear if the two Republican senators from Georgia were invited. Spokesmen for Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson could not be reached for comment by press time.