Republican leaders in the House complained on Friday that President Barack Obama is blowing them off after he seemed to ignore their weeks-old request for a meeting to discuss health care reform.
Last month, Republican leaders in the House asked Obama for a meeting on the issue before Congress embarks on its summer adventure, but in his reply sent on Friday night, Obama makes no mention of their request, according to a copy obtained by POLITICO.
"There's too much at stake to get health care reform wrong, and it's disappointing that the Administration is choosing a go-it-alone approach," said Antonia Ferrier, a spokeswoman for Republican Leader John Boehner.
The White House did not immediately respond to a Friday evening request for comment on the letter.
This past week, Obama met with Democrats on two key Senate committees, but not their Republican counterparts. And though his staff is meeting with moderate Republicans in the House, he has not yet met with party leaders to discuss health care reform.
Obama also made sure his budget bill included protections that would allow him to jam health care legislation through the Senate with a simple majority vote, preventing Republicans from waging a filibuster.
Despite the calls for a bipartisan bill, clear partisan divides are already starting to emerge, as Republicans are making the case that Democrats aren't following through on their promises to reach across the aisle. Obama's letter — dated June 2, but not sent until Friday, June 5 — feeds into that narrative.
In his letter, Obama thanks the GOP leaders "for letting [him] know that you share my view that we should enact legislation this year that reforms and improves our nation's health care system."
Republicans sent the president a letter laying out some broad priorities for health reform before a scheduled White House meeting in May with congressional leaders from both parties.
"I especially appreciate your commitment to assuring affordable, quality health care for all Americans," Obama says in his response. The president goes on to say that Congress has "an extraordinary opportunity to move forward in the months ahead" and reiterates his belief that the House will pass a bill by Aug. 1.
"I am encouraged by your willingness to work with me in that effort," Obama wrote.
But he makes no mention of the request to meet in the letter, which he signs off by stating, "Thank you again for sharing your thoughts with me and I look forward to further discussions on this critically important issue."