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 ObamaProtests planned over Trump military transgender ban EPA transition official dismisses climate science strategy as 'silliness' Microsoft’s misguided broadband plan endangers Americans 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 RyanOvernight Tech: Trump touts new Wisconsin electronics plant | Lawmakers to unveil email privacy bill | Facebook funds group fighting election hacks Overnight Finance: Fed holds rates steady | Treasury chief looking at online sales taxes | White House, GOP close to releasing tax-reform principles Wisconsin Democrat refuses to be ‘backdrop’ in Trump’s jobs announcement 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 SebeliusOPINION | 5 big ideas to halt America's opioid epidemic Aligning clinical and community resources improves health Sebelius on GOP healthcare plan: 'I'm not sure what the goal is here' 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 ReidConservative Senate candidate calls on GOP to end filibuster Ex-Reid aide: McConnell's 'original sin' was casting ObamaCare as 'partisan, socialist takeover' GOP faces growing demographic nightmare in West MORE (D-Nev.), Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellBare bones repeal plan gains steam in Senate Poll: Dems have the edge in healthcare debate Senate rejects repeal-only ObamaCare plan MORE (R-Ky.), Majority Whip Dick DurbinDick DurbinMnuchin: Trump administration examining online sales tax issue Senate Dem: We’re trying to block a recess appointment to replace Sessions Senate Dems launch talkathon ahead of ObamaCare repeal vote MORE (D-Ill.), Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Finance Committee Chairman Max BaucusMax BaucusHealthcare profiles in courage and cowardice OPINION | On Trump-Russia probe, don’t underestimate Sen. Chuck Grassley Lawmakers: Leave advertising tax break alone MORE (D-Mont.), HELP Committee Chairman Tom HarkinTom HarkinDistance education: Tumultuous today and yesterday Grassley challenger no stranger to defying odds Clinton ally stands between Sanders and chairmanship dream MORE (D-Iowa), HELP Committee ranking member Mike EnziMike EnziOvernight Finance: House votes to repeal arbitration rule | Yellen, Cohn on Trump's list for Fed chief | House passes Russia sanctions deal | GOP centrists push back on border wall funding Senators urge quotas on Canadian lumber, consultations with Congress Trump reopens fight on internet sales tax 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 BoehnerBoehner on Trump tweets: He gets 'into a pissing match with a skunk' every day Boehner predicts GOP will 'never' repeal, replace ObamaCare Sudan sanctions spur intense lobbying MORE (R-Ohio), Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), Minority Whip Eric CantorEric CantorSpecial interests hide behind vets on Independence Day What to watch for in Comey’s testimony Trump nominates two new DOD officials 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.).