Rep. Jeff Landry (R-La.) declined Obama’s invitation to meet at the White House Wednesday morning, criticizing the president’s handling of economic issues and the Gulf Coast oil spill and stating that he would not engage in “political grandstanding that will ultimately do nothing for debt reduction and job creation.”
Obama had invited all 240 members of the House Republican conference to a meeting in the East Room of the White House, where the ongoing deficit-reduction talks and the debt-ceiling debate were at the top of the agenda. House Republican leaders including House Speaker John Boehner (Ohio), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) and others attended the huddle, which came one day after the House rejected a measure that would have raised the debt limit without including any additional spending reductions.
In his statement, Landry said he would not attend the meeting because Obama had “done nothing” to address the country’s debt problem.
“I don’t intend to spend my morning being lectured to by a President whose failed policies have put our children and grandchildren in a huge burden of debt,” Landry said ahead of Wednesday’s meeting.
“Until the President produces a responsible deficit reduction plan, I’m not going to the White House to negotiate with myself,” he added. “Our conference has put out for months where we would start the process. The President has done nothing, just like he has for the people of the Gulf Coast.”
President Obama outlined his deficit-reduction proposal in an April speech at George Washington University. His plan would reduce borrowing by $4 trillion over 12 years; the budget blueprint drafted by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) would cut deficits by the same amount over ten years. In addition, Vice President Biden has been meeting regularly with congressional leaders from both parties in an effort to draft a longer-term deficit-reduction plan.
Landry also said that members of Louisiana’s congressional delegation have sent Obama “numerous requests” for meetings to discuss the administration’s policy on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, which Landry called “a de facto moratorium that has driven gas prices up and now threatens to derail economic recovery.”
“The President hasn’t even had the courtesy to write us a note back,” Landry said.
The Gulf drilling issue has been one on which both chambers have increasingly focused amid rising prices as the gas pump. The House last month passed a measure aimed at speeding up the oil and gas drilling permitting process; the White House pushed back against the move, arguing that it “would constrain the ability of (the Department of the Interior) to ensure that permits meet safety standards.”