GOP lawmaker, denied seat on Air Force One, blasts Obama
© Greg Nash

Rep. Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloRepublicans can't exploit the left's climate extremism without a better idea Progressive Latino group launches first incumbent protection campaign The Memo: Bad polls for Trump shake GOP MORE (R-Fla.) is criticizing as partisan President Obama’s immigration town hall on Wednesday, after the White House rejected his request to travel to the event with the president.

“There is strong support in our community for immigration reform and I was looking forward to participating in what I initially thought was a sincere effort to reach across the aisle and discuss strategies and efforts to achieve this goal,” Curbelo said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, this appears to have been no more than a choreographed, partisan event."


A statement from Curbelo’s office adds that the freshman lawmaker “was denied a seat on the flight” and had to skip the event at the last minute, while Democratic colleagues flew on the flight. 

Rep. Frederica WilsonFrederica Patricia WilsonBlack lawmakers condemn Trump's 'lynching' remarks Ten notable Democrats who do not favor impeachment Assault weapons ban picks up steam in Congress MORE (D-Fla.), whose district covers part of Miami, flew down to the event on Air Force One with President Obama. Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) also joined him. But Curbelo, whose district includes Florida international University, did not.

Curbelo has broken with the majority of his party on immigration and supports the immigration reform package passed by the Democratic-controlled Senate in 2013. 

“I’m not upset about not participating in the townhall, but I am disappointed for the millions of immigrants that are still awaiting resolution to their personal cases,” Curbelo added.

“Whenever the President wishes to get serious, I, along with my other colleagues that share his purported goal for immigration legislation, will gratefully welcome his engagement.”

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said in a press gaggle during the flight that it is "standard practice" for the preisdent to invite the local member of Congress to join him on such a flight, regardless of political party.

The White House has tried to invite both Republicans and Democrats to fly with Obama when he travels, Earnest also said.  

“In this case, we were unable to accommodate the Congressman’s request, but we typically try to do so when we can,” Earnest added. “I'm not sure exactly of the issue.”

Obama traveled to Florida International University in Miami for a town hall event on immigration hosted by MSNBC and Telemundo. While the event ended at 5 p.m., it won’t air on television until 7 p.m.

This story was updated at 6:40 p.m.