House GOP plans to hold retreat in Baltimore despite Trump attack
House Republicans are planning to hold their yearly policy retreat in Baltimore, a city President Donald Trump recently described as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess” where “no human being would want to live.”
The Washington Post reported Monday that two unidentified GOP sources confirmed that the September conference would be held in a downtown Baltimore hotel. The Baltimore Marriott Waterfront hotel appears to be sold out during the days of the retreat, Sept. 12 to 14, according to the report.
Typically, sitting presidents speak at their party’s annual retreat, the Post reported, which could make things awkward for Trump who disparaged the city and Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., in a series of tweets over the weekend.
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The retreat is handled by the House Republican Conference and the nonprofit Congressional Institute. Neither Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., the conference chairwoman, nor the Congressional Institute immediately responded to a request for comment.
House GOP leadership announced in April that the annual retreat would take place in Baltimore, months before Trump’s recent tweetstorm directed at Cummings and the city, CNN also reported.
Trump slammed Cummings’ district, which includes much of Baltimore, Saturday as a “filthy place” that is “FAR WORSE and more dangerous” than the southern U.S. border. He called it the worst district “in the USA.”
His comments came after Cummings, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, decried the administration’s treatment of migrants at the U.S.-Mexican border. The tweets were widely denounced as racist by Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who was born in Baltimore.
The president’s attacks on Cummings, his congressional district and the city of Baltimore are the second set of attacks on nonwhite Democrats by the president in as many weeks. The president recently attacked four Democratic congresswomen of color who have been outspoken Trump critics in a series of tweets, comments and a campaign rally speech widely condemned as racist.
Like the four female Democrats, who have become known as the “Squad,” Cummings is also a frequent critic of the president. The Maryland Democrat is African American and Baltimore in a majority African American city.
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The GOP retreat was originally scheduled to take place in West Virginia in January but was postponed because of the partial government shutdown earlier this year, according to CNN. Democrats also postponed their winter retreat which took place in April, CNN also reported.
Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young responded in a statement calling Trump “a disappointment to the people of Baltimore, our country, and to the world.”
The Baltimore Sun responded to Trump’s comments Saturday in a scathing editorial titled, “Better to have a few rats than to be one.” The paper argued that the president “has far more power to effect change in this city, for good or ill, than any single member of Congress.
“If there are problems here, rodents included, they are as much his responsibility as anyone’s, perhaps more because he holds the most powerful office in the land.”
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Contributing: Nicholas Wu and William Cummings, USA TODAY
Follow N’dea Yancey-Bragg on Twitter: @NdeaYanceyBragg