Disinvited GOP lawmaker turns up at Dem hearing

Disinvited GOP lawmaker turns up at Dem hearing
© Anna Moneymaker

Former GOP Rep. Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump, Biden go toe-to-toe in Iowa The Hill's Morning Report - Trump, Biden go toe-to-toe in Iowa Ex-GOP lawmakers are face of marijuana blitz MORE (Fla.) turned up in Washington on Wednesday for a Ways and Means Committee hearing on climate change — even though Democrats fearful he could use the event to bolster a reelection run had removed him from the witness list.

Curbelo went to the hearing anyway, and before it began told reporters his removal was a reflection of what is wrong with Washington.

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“What it has done is expose, again, the reason why things don't get done here, and why the big issues don't get resolved. Because too many people are focused on their own personal political interest, too many people are focused on getting reelected, and not enough people are trying to build a consensus,” he said.

Curbelo, a centrist Republican who narrowly lost his reelection race last fall, was initially invited to appear at the hearing by Ways and Means Chairman Richard NealRichard Edmund NealOn The Money: Fed opens door to rate cuts under pressure from Trump | Lawmakers, White House fail to reach budget deal | Democrats take aim at Trump policies with T spending bill | Senate sets hearing on Facebook's cryptocurrency On The Money: Fed opens door to rate cuts under pressure from Trump | Lawmakers, White House fail to reach budget deal | Democrats take aim at Trump policies with T spending bill | Senate sets hearing on Facebook's cryptocurrency Liberal group presses Democratic chairman to file lawsuit for Trump's tax returns quickly MORE (D-Mass.).

Neal rescinded the invitation under pressure from other Democrats, including Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerHouse Democrats close to finalizing border aid bill House Democrats close to finalizing border aid bill Hoyer expects reparations bill to get a floor vote MORE (Md.), who according to a report in Politico initially asked Neal to cancel the hearing entirely.

Curbelo was defeated by Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-PowellDebbie Mucarsel-PowellLawmakers congratulate US women's soccer team on winning opening World Cup match Lawmakers congratulate US women's soccer team on winning opening World Cup match Steyer group targeting 12 congressional Democrats over impeachment MORE (D-Fla.), and has not ruled out running for his old seat in 2020. Democrats who opposed his testimony said their party was effectively giving an assist to a Republican who wants to win back his congressional seat.

Other Democrats criticized the decision, arguing it was wrong to invite Curbelo and then disinvite him.

“Obviously, this is entirely out of their [Neal and his staff’s] control,” Curbelo said on Wednesday. “And by the way, this exposes another major flaw in this institution: Committees are powerless. Committee chairmen, which used to be the kings and the queens of the Hill, can't even invite their own witnesses to hearings.”

In the testimony he prepared for the hearing, Curbelo — who previously sat on the panel — called for bipartisan solutions to address climate change and applauded Democrats on the committee for holding the hearing.

Curbelo also criticized Hoyer for pressing Neal to disinvite him over his political future.

“Steny Hoyer has been a friend, someone who I respected very much while I was here. And the only question I have for him is, you know, is my political future more important than building consensus to address climate change in a meaningful way?” Curbelo said.

“And by his actions, he indicated that that, yes, one congressional district and what could potentially happen there is more important than solving what is probably the greatest threat to humanity.”

Curbelo said being disinvited has “certainly provoked a lot of thought” about his own political future.

“I'm not ready to make a decision. But needless to say, this institution needs a lot more sobriety and sincerity, as evidenced by this episode,” he said.