By Molly Hooper - 02/23/10 04:56 PM EST
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) told his colleagues on Tuesday that Republicans plan to attend the president’s high-profile healthcare summit this week in order to "crash the party."
According to a House GOP leadership aide familiar with the top-ranking Republican’s remarks at the weekly closed-door conference meeting, Boehner appealed to skeptical Republican lawmakers, saying, “We shouldn’t let the White House have a six-hour taxpayer-funded infomercial on ObamaCare. We need to show up. We need to crash the party.”
Boehner explained that leaders are waiting for a response from White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel to a letter they sent earlier this month that asked a series of questions on the bipartisan summit.
“It’s our intent to be there on Thursday. We’re waiting on a response and we’re hopeful that we’ll receive one soon," Boehner explained.
In the two weeks since President Barack Obama announced his televised bipartisan, bicameral healthcare summit, political operatives and consultants have debated whether Republicans could be walking into a public-relations disaster.
House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) has publicly said that Republicans intended to participate in the negotiation session.
Boehner conceded on Tuesday that “it's an invitation from the president of the United States. If you get an invite from the president, you have an obligation to go."
But the release of Obama’s own version of healthcare reform legislation on Monday irritated Republicans who have argued that the slate should be wiped clean if a true bipartisan compromise is going to be struck.
Boehner used the release of Obama’s healthcare bill as a rallying cry during the Tuesday morning GOP conference meeting, saying it was a sign that “Democrats clearly want us to boycott.”
The minority leader told reporters that the president has “basically crippled the summit expected on Thursday by coming in with a rerun of the same failed bill that couldn’t pass the House or Senate.”