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 CantorRepublicans who vow to never back Trump NRCC upgrades 11 'Young Guns' candidates Cruz, Kasich join forces to stop Trump 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 WarnerWeek ahead: Rival encryption efforts clash on Capitol Hill Kaine, Brown, Perez on Clinton’s list of possible VPs: report Encryption commission bill picks up more backers MORE and Reps. Jim MoranJim MoranTen House seats Dems hope Trump will tilt The Hill's 12:30 Report Big names free to lobby in 2016 MORE, Bobby ScottBobby ScottLabor chief knocks GOP 'waste of time' on fiduciary rule Overnight Regulation: Biz groups flock to White House to change overtime rule House panel votes to overturn Obama's financial adviser rule MORE and Gerry ConnollyGerry ConnollyOvernight Regulation: DHS pushed to lift employee morale Metro officials clash with lawmakers over funding, safety Clinton-Trump would be the oldest White House match-up in history 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 ForbesGOP lawmakers question missing Bibles at VA clinics Lawmakers look to get tough on Russia House Armed Services subpanel to propose .6B for shipbuilding 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 KaineDem senator compares Obama's moves in Syria to Putin's in Ukraine Let the Democratic veepstakes begin Clinton allies ridicule Trump's ‘America first’ doctrine 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.