McDonnell, Cantor press event leads to Dem uproar in Virginia delegation

A scheduled meeting of the Virginia congressional delegation with Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) devolved into partisan acrimony, as Democratic lawmakers boycotted the get-together because McDonnell planned to criticize President Obama in a press conference afterward.

In a statement, Democratic members of the delegation said the planned meeting was historically bipartisan but “was derailed by Republican efforts to apply a partisan spin to the discussion.”

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At issue was a press conference McDonnell was to have outside the Capitol with House Majority Leader Eric CantorEric Ivan CantorTrump taps pollster to push back on surveys showing Biden with double-digit lead Bottom Line The Democrats' strategy conundrum: a 'movement' or a coalition? MORE (R-Va.) and other GOP members of the delegation to address “the impact of sequestration on Virginia.” The lawmakers were expected to criticize Obama for a lack of leadership on efforts to replace deep automatic spending cuts set to take effect next year.

“We reject this approach and find it to be contrary to Virginia’s long traditions in such matters,” Democratic Sens. Jim Webb and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerThe Hill's Campaign Report: US officials say Russia, China are looking to sow discord in election US intelligence says Russia seeking to 'denigrate' Biden GOP chairmen hit back at accusation they are spreading disinformation with Biden probe MORE and Reps. Jim MoranJames (Jim) Patrick MoranLawmakers toast Greta Van Susteren's new show Star-studded cast to perform play based on Mueller report DC theatre to host 11-hour reading of the Mueller report MORE, Bobby ScottRobert (Bobby) Cortez ScottPelosi huddles with chairmen on surprise billing but deal elusive Overnight Health Care: White House blocks CDC director from testifying before House panel | Fauci urges action on masks | Administration document says counties in 'red zone' should close bars, gyms White House blocks CDC director from testifying before House panel on reopening schools MORE and Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyCongress must enact a plan to keep government workers safe Trump's postmaster general is playing with political fire USAID appointee alleges 'rampant anti-Christian sentiment' at agency MORE said in a joint statement.

“Democrats in the Virginia congressional delegation understand and take seriously the potential impact of sequestration on Virginia’s defense industry and overall economy.  We are working hard to avoid spending reductions which would harm our national security. We had hoped to have a substantive conversation with Governor McDonnell and our Republican colleagues about how to do just that,” they said.
 
With Cantor seemingly caught in the middle, McDonnell canceled the press conference and met only with Republican members of the delegation in Cantor’s Capitol office.

McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that “to assuage Democratic concerns, we have agreed to cancel our unrelated press conference scheduled for after today's meeting. We would hope that the Democratic delegation will now attend today's meeting.”

Martin said McDonnell is “committed to holding a bipartisan joint delegation meeting. It's unfortunate that our Democratic friends would jeopardize that meeting to make a political point. We certainly haven't objected to their press conferences and campaign events in the past, and we completely understood when some Democrats spent their weekend stumping with the president.”

Scott told The Hill that the entire delegation was expected to attend a monthly meeting organized by Moran on Thursday. He said he didn’t have a problem with McDonnell and the Republicans taking partisan shots at the president during an election year. “It’s just that you’re not going to get a bipartisan group to fire the shots,” he said.

Rep. Randy ForbesJames (Randy) Randy ForbesBottom line Selection of Sarah Makin-Acciani shows the commitment to religious liberty Too much ‘can do,’ not enough candor MORE (R) disputed the Democratic claims that McDonnell was breaking with tradition, pulling out a news clip from 2009 reporting that Republicans had boycotted a similar meeting with then-Gov. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineHillary Clinton roasts NYT's Maureen Dowd over column Ex-USAID employee apologizes, denies sending explosive tweets USAID appointee alleges 'rampant anti-Christian sentiment' at agency MORE (D) because of a partisan fight over the economic stimulus package.

“This is the governor of Virginia coming up here and they want to boycott this because they think he’s going to have a press conference? How petty do you get? This is pretty petty,” Forbes said.