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Republicans sit out talks with Kaine

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Gov. Timothy M. Kaine asked Virginia’s members of Congress to come to Richmond to discuss the state’s federal stimulus package needs, but all five of the state’s Republican Congressmen were absent.
Kaine, the new Democratic national chairman, appealed Monday to both senators and six House members — all fellow Democrats — to preserve as much education and discretionary cash for state governments as possible.
The $800 billion package is due for a U.S. Senate vote as early as Monday.
‘‘We talked about the features of both houses’ plans, some discrepancies between them and what our preferences and priorities were,’’ Kaine said after the two-hour closed-door huddle in the Executive Mansion.
They also discussed strategy for countering the Pentagon’s plans to move an aircraft carrier group from its mooring in Norfolk to Mayport, Fla.
The breakfast meeting with the governor and the state’s Washington contingent is held each year. It’s unprecedented for members of the governor’s rival party to not attend.
Not only did U.S. Reps. Eric Cantor, Robert Goodlatte, Frank Wolf, Randy Forbes and Rob Wittman not attend, they didn’t even send aides to represent them.
Wittman’s chief of staff, Mary Springer, blamed a date change perhaps two weeks ago by Kaine’s office. She said Wittman had constituent meetings and that she and another senior staff member also had other commitments.
Kaine spokesman Gordon Hickey said the date was changed in mid-January, ‘‘but the Democrats found a way to rearrange their schedules.’’
Democratic Reps. Jim Moran and Robert C. Scott attended the meeting then-Gov. Jim Gilmore held in 2001, when he was the newly minted chairman of the Republican National Committee.
Over the previous seven years, under Kaine and his Democratic predecessor Mark R. Warner, Republicans attended regularly, including former Sens. George Allen and John W. Warner.
‘‘This is the way that a delegation should work, and for the Republican members of this delegation to decide to boycott a meeting that would benefit their constituents through their participation is something I think is very regrettable,’’ Sen. Jim Webb said.
Moran said he suspected Cantor, in his role as House minority whip, orchestrated the boycott.
‘‘This would not have been the way Frank Wolf or Randy Forbes or Bob Goodlatte would have wanted it. They would have been here,’’ said Moran, who represent the 8th District that takes in Washington, D.C.’s closest suburbs.

Brad Dayspring, a spokesman for Cantor, said Moran’s suggestion was flatly false. Cantor himself was on congressional trip to Iraq and Afghanistan to check progress on the war.

AP-ES-02-09-09 2038EST

Republicans sit out talks with Kaine

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Gov. Timothy M. Kaine asked Virginia’s members of Congress to come to Richmond to discuss the state’s federal stimulus package needs, but all five of the state’s Republican Congressmen were absent.
Kaine, the new Democratic national chairman, appealed Monday to both senators and six House members — all fellow Democrats — to preserve as much education and discretionary cash for state governments as possible.
The $800 billion package is due for a U.S. Senate vote as early as Monday.
‘‘We talked about the features of both houses’ plans, some discrepancies between them and what our preferences and priorities were,’’ Kaine said after the two-hour closed-door huddle in the Executive Mansion.
They also discussed strategy for countering the Pentagon’s plans to move an aircraft carrier group from its mooring in Norfolk to Mayport, Fla.
The breakfast meeting with the governor and the state’s Washington contingent is held each year. It’s unprecedented for members of the governor’s rival party to not attend.
Not only did U.S. Reps. Eric Cantor, Robert Goodlatte, Frank Wolf, Randy Forbes and Rob Wittman not attend, they didn’t even send aides to represent them.
Wittman’s chief of staff, Mary Springer, blamed a date change perhaps two weeks ago by Kaine’s office. She said Wittman had constituent meetings and that she and another senior staff member also had other commitments.
Kaine spokesman Gordon Hickey said the date was changed in mid-January, ‘‘but the Democrats found a way to rearrange their schedules.’’
Democratic Reps. Jim Moran and Robert C. Scott attended the meeting then-Gov. Jim Gilmore held in 2001, when he was the newly minted chairman of the Republican National Committee.
Over the previous seven years, under Kaine and his Democratic predecessor Mark R. Warner, Republicans attended regularly, including former Sens. George Allen and John W. Warner.
‘‘This is the way that a delegation should work, and for the Republican members of this delegation to decide to boycott a meeting that would benefit their constituents through their participation is something I think is very regrettable,’’ Sen. Jim Webb said.
Moran said he suspected Cantor, in his role as House minority whip, orchestrated the boycott.
‘‘This would not have been the way Frank Wolf or Randy Forbes or Bob Goodlatte would have wanted it. They would have been here,’’ said Moran, who represent the 8th District that takes in Washington, D.C.’s closest suburbs.

Brad Dayspring, a spokesman for Cantor, said Moran’s suggestion was flatly false. Cantor himself was on congressional trip to Iraq and Afghanistan to check progress on the war.

AP-ES-02-09-09 2038EST