White House snubs budget panel leaders in health summit invites

The White House did not invite House or Senate Budget Committee leaders to its healthcare reform summit later this month, including a Republican who recently offered to work with President Barack ObamaBarack ObamaGraham: Left is 'going insane' after Trump's win President travels again for meetings at Trump golf club in Va. Cotton: House 'moved a bit too fast' on healthcare MORE to strike a bipartisan deal.

Obama’s administration on Friday released a list of its invitees to the Feb. 25 summit, but topping the conspicuous absences were the top budget-writers in each chamber. For the Senate, the list excluded Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), the ranking Budget Committee member who in recent weeks has been publicly courting the Obama administration for a seat at the table in the talks, and committee chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.).

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Conrad and Gregg last month launched an unsuccessful effort to create a legislative commission to study the federal deficit. For the House, missing from Friday’s invitee list was Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt (D-S.C.) and ranking member Paul RyanPaul RyanTed Koppel tells Sean Hannity he is bad for America Ryan aides: President 'clear' his tweet had nothing to do with Ryan Lawmakers signal fight for healthcare reform is not over MORE (R-Wis.).

Conrad and Gregg were both unreachable on Saturday, and calls, pages and e-mails to multiple White House spokesmen went unreturned.

Unless the administration changes course, the only way for the budget-writers to be included is to be chosen by their leadership as one of four extra guests the administration is allowing.

Gregg has been clearly lobbying to be included in the talks, telling MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Friday that both parties should "step back.” He did tell Mitchell that the White House has contacted his office even though he wasn’t formally invited to the summit.


“Let’s start with a blank sheet of paper and let's put on that piece of paper things we can agree about," Gregg said. "There are a lot of places I see we could make progress on if we started with that blank piece of paper.”

However, Gregg has had a rocky relationship with Obama in the past year. Originally tapped to become the president’s commerce secretary, Gregg abruptly withdrew and went on to become one of the most consistent GOP critics of Obama’s agenda.

In all, the White House on Friday invited 21 members of Congress — 12 Democrats and nine Republicans — to the summit, with an option for House and Senate leaders to add four other members of their choice. Also present will be representatives from the Office of Management and Budget, the Joint Committee on Taxation, the Congressional Budget Office, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen SebeliusKathleen SebeliusSebelius on GOP healthcare plan: 'I'm not sure what the goal is here' Obama's health secretary to be first female president of American University Leaked email: Podesta pushed Tom Steyer for Obama’s Cabinet MORE and Office of Health Reform Director Nancy DeParle.

The invitee list focuses on leadership members, plus the top members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and Finance Committee and the House’s Ways and Means Committee, Energy and Commerce Committee and Education and Labor Committee.

The Senate invitees: Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidThis obscure Senate rule could let VP Mike Pence fully repeal ObamaCare once and for all Sharron Angle to challenge GOP rep in Nevada Fox's Watters asks Trump whom he would fire: Baldwin, Schumer or Zucker MORE (D-Nev.), Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellThe Memo: Winners and losers from the battle over healthcare GOP senators pitch alternatives after House pulls ObamaCare repeal bill Under pressure, Dems hold back Gorsuch support MORE (R-Ky.), Majority Whip Dick DurbinDick DurbinThe Hill’s Whip List: Where Dems stand on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Gorsuch rewrites playbook for confirmation hearings Gorsuch: I'm 'sorry' for ruling against autistic student MORE (D-Ill.), Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Finance Committee Chairman Max BaucusMax BaucusGOP hasn’t reached out to centrist Dem senators Five reasons why Tillerson is likely to get through Business groups express support for Branstad nomination MORE (D-Mont.), HELP Committee Chairman Tom HarkinTom HarkinGrassley challenger no stranger to defying odds Clinton ally stands between Sanders and chairmanship dream Do candidates care about our health or just how much it costs? MORE (D-Iowa), HELP Committee ranking member Mike EnziMike EnziTop Dem: Trump's State Dept. cuts a 'Ponzi scheme' Republicans eye strategy for repealing Wall Street reform Lawmakers fundraise amid rising town hall pressure MORE (R-Wyo.) and senior HELP Committee member Chris Dodd (D-Conn.).

The House invitees: Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Minority Leader John BoehnerJohn BoehnerTrump, GOP fumble chance to govern ObamaCare gets new lease on life Ryan picks party over country by pushing healthcare bill MORE (R-Ohio), Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), Minority Whip Eric CantorEric CantorDemocrats step up calls that Russian hack was act of war Paul replaces Cruz as GOP agitator GOP shifting on immigration MORE (R-Va.), Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), ranking committee member Dave Camp (R-Mich.), Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), ranking committee member Joe Barton (R-Texas), Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.), ranking committee member John Kline (R-Minn.) and former Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.).