McDonnell, Cantor press event leads to Dem uproar in Virginia delegation

A scheduled meeting of the Virginia congressional delegation with Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) devolved into partisan acrimony, as Democratic lawmakers boycotted the get-together because McDonnell planned to criticize President Obama in a press conference afterward.

In a statement, Democratic members of the delegation said the planned meeting was historically bipartisan but “was derailed by Republican efforts to apply a partisan spin to the discussion.”

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At issue was a press conference McDonnell was to have outside the Capitol with House Majority Leader Eric CantorEric CantorTrump nominates two new DOD officials Brat: New ObamaCare repeal bill has 'significant' changes Overnight Energy: Flint lawmaker pushes EPA for new lead rule MORE (R-Va.) and other GOP members of the delegation to address “the impact of sequestration on Virginia.” The lawmakers were expected to criticize Obama for a lack of leadership on efforts to replace deep automatic spending cuts set to take effect next year.

“We reject this approach and find it to be contrary to Virginia’s long traditions in such matters,” Democratic Sens. Jim Webb and Mark WarnerMark WarnerFive takeaways from a busy day of Russia hearings Senate Intel panel issues subpoenas to Flynn businesses Overnight Cybersecurity: Flynn refuses to comply with Senate subpoena | Chaffetz postpones hearing with Comey | Small biz cyber bill would cost M | New worm spotted after 'Wanna Cry' MORE and Reps. Jim MoranJim MoranFormer GOP House veterans panel chairman goes to K Street Former reps: Increase support to Ukraine to deter Russia GOP Rep. Comstock holds on to Virginia House seat MORE, Bobby ScottBobby ScottLawmakers unveil bill to combat Sessions' push for tougher sentences Dems unveil bill to bring back workplace safety rule Congress should beat the courts when it comes to taxing online retailers MORE and Gerry ConnollyGerry ConnollyHouse votes to target human traffickers with cash rewards Overnight Cybersecurity: DOJ names special counsel for Russia probe | NSA warned Microsoft about security flaw | House passes IT modernization bill Overnight Tech: Net neutrality supporters rally ahead of vote | Trump taps telecom policy chief | House Dem infrastructure plan includes B for broadband | Amazon eyes entering pharmacy market MORE said in a joint statement.

“Democrats in the Virginia congressional delegation understand and take seriously the potential impact of sequestration on Virginia’s defense industry and overall economy.  We are working hard to avoid spending reductions which would harm our national security. We had hoped to have a substantive conversation with Governor McDonnell and our Republican colleagues about how to do just that,” they said.
 
With Cantor seemingly caught in the middle, McDonnell canceled the press conference and met only with Republican members of the delegation in Cantor’s Capitol office.

McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that “to assuage Democratic concerns, we have agreed to cancel our unrelated press conference scheduled for after today's meeting. We would hope that the Democratic delegation will now attend today's meeting.”

Martin said McDonnell is “committed to holding a bipartisan joint delegation meeting. It's unfortunate that our Democratic friends would jeopardize that meeting to make a political point. We certainly haven't objected to their press conferences and campaign events in the past, and we completely understood when some Democrats spent their weekend stumping with the president.”

Scott told The Hill that the entire delegation was expected to attend a monthly meeting organized by Moran on Thursday. He said he didn’t have a problem with McDonnell and the Republicans taking partisan shots at the president during an election year. “It’s just that you’re not going to get a bipartisan group to fire the shots,” he said.

Rep. Randy ForbesRandy ForbesTrump makes little headway filling out Pentagon jobs Why there's only one choice for Trump's Navy secretary Trump likely to tap business executive to head Navy: report MORE (R) disputed the Democratic claims that McDonnell was breaking with tradition, pulling out a news clip from 2009 reporting that Republicans had boycotted a similar meeting with then-Gov. Tim KaineTim KaineOvernight Tech: FCC won't fine Colbert over Trump joke | Trump budget slashes science funding | Net neutrality comment period opens Sinclair deal puts heat on FCC Senate Dem: Comey firing an 'attempt to obstruct' Russia investigation MORE (D) because of a partisan fight over the economic stimulus package.

“This is the governor of Virginia coming up here and they want to boycott this because they think he’s going to have a press conference? How petty do you get? This is pretty petty,” Forbes said.