President Obama will hold his televised health care summit at the White House Thursday, and all the Republicans who were invited have confirmed they will attend. Except, that is, for House Minority Leader John Boehner, who will likely be there but has not confirmed.
Boehner told the House Republican Conference at a meeting today, according to an aide, that "We haven't officially accepted the invitation yet -- I'm still waiting on a response to the questions Eric [Cantor] and I sent to Rahm two weeks ago. But we are putting a team together, and our intention is to participate. It's a team that won't be bashful about standing up to the president and standing our ground...
"This so-called summit is a charade. The Democrats clearly want us to boycott," Boehner conveyed to the GOP Conference. "We shouldn't let the White House have a six-hour taxpayer-funded infomercial on ObamaCare. We need to show up. We need to crash the party."
Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said he expects the minority leader will ttend, but Boehner has not RSVPed one way or the other.
It also remains officially unclear whether Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) will
attend. His office did not respond to requests for comment this morning.
[UPDATE: Shortly after this post was published, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's office announced that Kyl would attend, as it released its final list of attendees with Kyl's name at the top.]
As Republicans have expressed doubts that the summit will truly be a bipartisan affair, Boehner has criticized the summit more forcefully than some of his colleagues.
Boehner's office issued a statement last Thursday warning that the summit could be an "infomercial" for Democratic proposals.
"We're one week away from the 'bipartisan' White House health care summit, and Washington Democrats are scrambling to salvage their massive - and quite partisan - government takeover of health care," the statement read. "We don't need a six-hour infomercial for the latest Democratic backroom deal. We need to start over on real health care reforms to lower costs."
And on Monday, Boehner blasted Obama's new health care proposal as
corrupting the integrity of the summit. In a statement issued through
his office, Boehner said:
The President has crippled the credibility of this week's summit by proposing the same massive government takeover of health care based on a partisan bill the American people have already rejected. This new Democrats-only backroom deal doubles down on the same failed approach that will drive up premiums, destroy jobs, raise taxes, and slash Medicare benefits.
This week's summit clearly has all the makings of a Democratic infomercial for continuing on a partisan course that relies on more backroom deals and parliamentary tricks to circumvent the will of the American people and jam through a massive government takeover of health care...
For his part, Kyl has questioned the purpose of a even holding summit, in light of Democrats' discussion of using reconciliation rules to pass health care without GOP support.
Today, seven of the nine Republican invitees have confirmed they will attend. Boehner and Kyl are the two exceptions.