By Edward Epstein, CQ Staff
President Obama, whose early pledges to pursue bipartisan cooperation in
Washington faded in the rough-and-tumble of the past year, will try
again this month when he travels to Baltimore to address House
Republicans at their annual policy retreat.
House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence of Indiana said Tuesday
that the Democratic president has accepted an invitation to appear at
the retreat, which begins Jan. 28. He said he was "grateful" that the
president, who traveled to the Capitol early in his presidency to meet
with House and Senate Republicans over his plans for an economic
stimulus package, would speak to the conference, which will meet at a
But House Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia was less conciliatory,
repeating the GOP charge that when it comes to building bipartisanship,
Obama has been all rhetoric.
"Though it's welcome news that President Obama will speak with House
Republicans later this month, it is important to point out that true
bipartisanship requires working together on common-sense solutions and a
mainstream agenda to help Americans facing difficult challenges. It is
important to ask whether the President plans to meet WITH Republicans,
or speak TO them," Cantor said in a statement.
He said that while Obama solicited Republican ideas on the stimulus and
later on such issues as health care, he hasn't seriously considered
Democrats counter that the Republicans have decided to become the "party
of no," determined to see Obama and the Democratic Congress fail. Not a
single House Republican voted for the economic stimulus package enacted
early last year (PL 111-5), and only one voted for the health care
overhaul bill (HR 3962).
Obama's campaign for the White House in 2008 included pledges to end the
atmosphere of destructive partisanship in Washington.
Obama will also appear Jan. 14 at the House Democratic Caucus' policy
conference in the Capitol Visitor Center, where the theme will be jobs
The Democrats, who for the past several years have traveled to a resort
in Williamsburg, Va., have scaled back their plans for their conference
this year, in keeping with the tough economic times.
Republicans, who have traveled for their conferences to resorts in
Virginia and West Virginia, have followed suit by moving their meeting
Pence said Republicans still want to get the president's ear for their
conservative ideas. "House Republicans look forward to presenting the
president with our proposals to protect our nation, create jobs, control
federal spending, lower the cost of health care, achieve energy
independence and strengthen families," he said.