Boehner, McConnell skipping state dinner with Chinese leader

Three top congressional leaders are skipping a state dinner for Chinese President Hu Jintao in what may be perceived by China as a snub.

House Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerRift widens between business groups and House GOP Juan Williams: Pelosi shows her power Debt ceiling games endanger US fiscal credibility — again MORE (R-Ohio), Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidDemocrats brace for tough election year in Nevada The Memo: Biden's horizon is clouded by doubt Fight over Biden agenda looms large over Virginia governor's race MORE (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHoyer signals House vote on bill to 'remove' debt limit threat Biden signs bill to raise debt ceiling On The Money — Progressives play hard ball on Biden budget plan MORE (R-Ky.) all said "thanks, but no thanks" to White House invitations for the dinner.

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Reid and BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerRift widens between business groups and House GOP Juan Williams: Pelosi shows her power Debt ceiling games endanger US fiscal credibility — again MORE are expected to meet with Hu during a separate meeting Thursday on Capitol Hill.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), a vocal critic of China on human-rights issues, is attending the state dinner, only the third thrown by President Obama.

An aide to Reid said the majority leader is flying back from Nevada to Washington on Wednesday so he can meet with Hu on Thursday.

An aide to McConnell said the GOP leader could not make the dinner because he has a series of events in Kentucky. The Senate is in recess this week.

The White House on Tuesday indicated it wanted congressional leaders to attend the dinner. “We hope that because of the importance of the relationship that they would attend,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said.

He said he did not know why Boehner declined the invitation.

Boehner offered a “diplomatic answer” to a question about why he declined the invitation while speaking to reporters on Wednesday, according to a report by ABC News.

“Without accepting most of that question, the president of China is coming to the Hill on Thursday. We’re going to meet with him in a bipartisan fashion and I look forward to seeing him in the future.”