Democrats in Virginia’s congressional delegation are boycotting a meeting with Gov. Bob McDonnell this afternoon after learning that McDonnell and Republican members of the delegation planned to hold a partisan press conference after the session.
McDonnell and the state’s eight Republican congressmen — including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Henrico County — have scheduled a Capitol Hill news conference later today to discuss the impact that potential defense spending cuts could have on Virginia. Federal spending cuts and tax hikes will take effect early next year if Congress and the Obama administration fail to reach a deficit reduction deal as called for in the 2011 agreement to raise the federal debt limit.
Republicans are trying to pin the blame for the impasse on Obama and repeatedly raised the issue last week with the president was campaigning in Virginia. Democrats in Virginia’s congressional delegation apparently expect the same thing to happen today and pulled out of the meeting with McDonnell, who has been an eager surrogate for Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.
Sen. Jim Webb, Sen.Mark Warner, and the state’s three Democratic House members — Jim Moran of Alexandria, Bobby Scott of Newport News and Gerry Connolly of Fairfax County — issued this statement this afternoon:
“Today’s approach to what has always been a bipartisan discussion simply is not the Virginia way. For decades, the Virginia congressional delegation has had a tradition of productive, bipartisan meetings with a long line of recent governors, Republican and Democrat. At these meetings and thereafter, partisan politics always took a backseat to our combined efforts to move Virginia forward.
“Today’s delegation meeting was derailed by Republican efforts to apply a partisan spin to the discussion and to the issues that face us. We reject this approach and find it to be contrary to Virginia’s long traditions in such matters.
“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.
“We look forward to the next delegation meeting where we can work together in a cohesive and constructive way to move Virginia forward.”
Update (6:28 p.m.): The news conference was called off and a McDonnell spokesman said the Democratic members were advised of the cancellation prior to the scheduled 1:30 p.m. meeting. A Warner spokesman said word that the news conference was cancelled arrived after the meeting started.
– Michael Sluss