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 BoehnerLongtime House parliamentarian to step down Five things we learned from this year's primaries Bad blood between Pelosi, Meadows complicates coronavirus talks MORE (R-Ohio), Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidGOP senators confident Trump pick to be confirmed by November Durbin: Democrats can 'slow' Supreme Court confirmation 'perhaps a matter of hours, maybe days at most' Supreme Court fight pushes Senate toward brink MORE (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump, GOP aim to complete reshaping of federal judiciary Supreme Court fight should drive Democrats and help Biden Harris on SCOTUS fight: Ginsburg's legacy 'at stake' MORE (R-Ky.) all said "thanks, but no thanks" to White House invitations for the dinner.

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Reid and BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerLongtime House parliamentarian to step down Five things we learned from this year's primaries Bad blood between Pelosi, Meadows complicates coronavirus talks 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.”