Governors in D.C. for Annual Meeting
By John Gramlich, Staff Writer
Instead, the economy tops the official agenda at the National Governors Association annual meeting, which begins tomorrow (February 26). At least 13 Democratic governors will get an early start by meeting with Obama today to "discuss the ways Washington and the states can work together to grow the economy and create jobs," according to the White House, and panel discussions are scheduled throughout the weekend on the same topic.
Regardless of the official agenda, governors and Obama administration officials are likely to discuss labor relations, which have become an increasingly acrimonious subject of debate in recent days as several states — led by Wisconsin but also including Indiana and Ohio — have sought to sharply limit the power of unions. Tens of thousands of protesters have demonstrated against such plans in state capitols around the country, and Democratic lawmakers from Indiana and Wisconsin have taken the dramatic step of fleeing their states to deny Republicans a quorum. Obama's unusual criticism of Walker, a Republican who took office weeks ago, underscores the ferocity of the debate.
Whether Obama himself will weigh in again on labor relations this weekend is uncertain. After his pointed remark about Walker, the president has distanced himself from the debate, as The Wall Street Journal pointed out earlier this week.
Meanwhile, the ongoing partisan debate about health care reform also likely will be a hot topic at the NGA meeting. The federal Department of Health and Human Services has been trying to assuage Republican governors' concerns about the new health care law, stressing that states have flexibility in a number of areas, as Kaiser Health News reports today . But many of the nation's 29 Republican governors were elected last year on pledges to fight the law every step of the way.