A group of House Democrats are calling on House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to postpone Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to a joint session of Congress next month.
In a letter to Boehner, the Democrats — led by Reps. Steve Cohen (D-TN), Keith Ellison (D-MN), and Maxine Waters (D-CA) — cite concerns that the speech will undermine the Obama administration’s nuclear negotiations with Iran and that the invitation was extended without input from the White House.
“The invitation to Prime Minister Netanyahu enlists a foreign leader to influence a Presidential policy initiative. We should be able to disagree on foreign policy within our American political system and without undermining the presidency,” the letter reads.
The lawmakers further take issue with the proximity of the talk to Netanyahu’s reelection in Israeli.
“Beyond threatening our diplomatic priorities, the timing of this invitation offers the Congressional platform to elevate a candidate in a foreign election,” they write.
Netanyahu is slated to speak to Congress on March 3. The White House has already announced that President Obama will not meet with the Israeli leader while he is in town, and Vice President Biden will not attend the joint session. Some Democrats have also said they will not attend.
On Tuesday Rep. Robert Pittenger, the chairman of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, met with Netanyahu in Israel. Pittenger told Breitbart News Netanyahu will bring a message about the dangers of a nuclear Iran when he visits next month.
“We’re straightening pictures while the house is burning down, to be quibbling over who invited who,” Pittenger said. “And the larger issue is coming to recognition with Iran with nuclear capacities that they will no doubt have with any agreement.”
Boehner has repeatedly defended the invitation.
“It’s an important message that the American people need to hear. I’m glad that he’s coming, and I’m looking forward to what he has to say,” Boehner said on Fox News Sunday over the weekend.
Nearly two-dozen Democrats signed the letter to Boehner dated Wednesday, including: Cohen, Ellison, Waters, as well as Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), André Carson (D-IN), John Conyers, (D-MI), Danny Davis (D-IL), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Betty McCollum (D-MN), James McGovern (D-MA), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), Donald Payne (D-NJ), Chellie Pingrie (D-ME), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Mark Takano (D-CA), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Peter Welch (D-VT), and John Yarmuth (D-KY).