Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer kept a low profile Wednesday in Washington, D.C., staying out of sight as members of a private meeting she attended discussed the role of state and federal governments to respond to national disasters.
The Arizona governor is in town to attend the Council of Governors meeting, but her trip is most notable for the last-minute meeting with President Obama to discuss the state's new immigration law that the White House opposes.
Obama appointed Brewer to the Council of Governors, a group designated in the 2008 defense authorization bill passed by Congress to provide advice to the president on ways to help the federal government strengthen the nation's homeland security.
Obama picked the 10-person team in January for a two-year term.
Wednesday's meeting, convened in northern Virginia, was a "planning session" ahead of next month's official meeting in Boston, according to Brewer Deputy Press Secretary Tasya Peterson.
Peterson, who did not elaborate on the topics reviewed, described the gathering as a "confidential meeting," but Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire told reporters outside the meeting that the group focused largely on the role of state and federal governments as first responders to national disasters.
Gregoire said the council hopes to establish precise roles for the State Department, Federal Emergency Management Agency and state governments in preparedness and emergency response, and to specifically determine whether the state or the federal government is responsible for being a first responder when a disaster strikes -- either manmade, like terror, or naturally.
The role of the state versus federal government is at the center of the debate surrounding Arizona's SB 1070, which makes it a state crime to be in the country illegally. The legislation, which goes into effect July 29, allows for local law enforcement to detain and question a person about his or her immigration status if there is "reasonable suspicion" the individual is in the country illegally.
Opponents of the law claim it is the role of the federal government -- not the state -- to enforce immigration law, while supporters believe that states should have the right to police illegal immigrants.
The attendees at Wednesday's governors meeting were Brewer, Gregoire, and Govs. James Douglas, R-Vt., , Michael Rounds, R-S.D. and Bev Perdue, D-N.C. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, who are also members, did not attend.