White House concedes 'miscommunication' on Durbin claim

Oct. 24, 2013 at 2:17 PM
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WASHINGTON, Oct. 24 (UPI) -- The White House says it regrets a "misunderstanding" arising from a report a House Republican was disrespectful to President Barack Obama during budget talks.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin said on his Facebook page a member of Congress, whose name he did not mention, told Obama, "I cannot even stand to look at you." White House spokesman Jay Carney said Wednesday the incident "did not happen," but a spokesman for Durbin said the second-ranking Senate Democrat "stands by his comments."

The White House issued a statement Thursday saying the conflicting accounts resulted from a "miscommunication" when the White House briefed Senate Democrats on the meeting, in what Washington calls a "read out."

"While the quote attributed to a Republican lawmaker in the House GOP meeting with the president is not accurate, there was a miscommunication when the White House read out that meeting to Senate Democrats, and we regret the misunderstanding."

Democratic Senate officials have told reporters the unidentified Republican was Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas, but he told reporters Wednesday "there is no way" he made the remark, The Hill reported Thursday.

Sessions, the chairman of the House Rules Committee, was one of 20 Republicans who met at the White House with Obama during the government shutdown to discuss an impasse over federal spending.

He said he spoke up during the meeting, but only to tell the president "I believed there needed to be a re-evaluation of a leadership role toward that end."

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