3 prominent House Democrats vow to skip Netanyahu speech


John Lewis

WASHINGTON (AP) — Three prominent House Democrats are vowing to skip Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress next month, saying they disapprove of House Speaker John Boehner’s decision to invite the Israeli leader without consulting President Barack Obama.

Reps. John Lewis of Georgia, G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina and Earl Blumenauer of Oregon said they won’t attend Netanyahu’s March 3 speech.


The White House also hinted Thursday that Vice President Joe Biden may not attend Netanyahu’s speech, which is expected to focus on Iran. Spokesman Josh Earnest said Biden takes “very seriously” his responsibilities as Senate president, including his ceremonial duty to attend joint sessions of Congress. However, Earnest noted that Biden missed a joint session in 2011 because he was traveling abroad.

Earnest said the vice president’s travel schedule for early March has not been finalized.

He told reporters that Obama “does believe it is up to individual members of Congress to make their own decision about whether or not to attend.”

Lewis, a hero of the civil rights movement, said Thursday that Boehner’s unilateral invitation to Netanyahu was “an affront to the president and the State Department” that cannot be ignored. Butterfield, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said Thursday he was “very disappointed that the speaker would cause such a ruckus” among members of Congress. He called the speaker’s actions “unprecedented.”

Blumenauer, a well-known liberal and advocate of alternative energy, called on Boehner last week to cancel the joint session with Netanyahu. If the speech goes forward, “I will refuse to be part of a reckless act of political grandstanding,” Blumenauer said.

The Constitution vests the responsibility for foreign affairs in the president, Blumenauer said, adding that “it’s deeply troubling that the speaker is willing to undercut diplomacy in exchange for theatrics on the House floor.”

Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said Thursday that “support for Israel has always been a bipartisan issue, and it always should be.”

Butterfield also criticized Netanyahu, saying that by accepting Boehner’s invitation without talking to Obama, the prime minister had “politicized” his visit to the United States.

Netanyahu’s speech is expected to focus largely on Iran — and its nuclear program — amid delicate negotiations involving the United States, other Western powers and Tehran. Netanyahu’s acceptance of Boehner’s invitation has infuriated the White House and many congressional Democrats.

Netanyahu is a critic of administration negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, and some Democrats fear the Israeli leader will use the opportunity to embarrass Obama and further his own campaign for re-election.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said she plans to attend the speech.

“It is really sad that it has come to this,” Pelosi said Thursday, adding that “as of now, it is my intention to go.”

Butterfield and Lewis both said their decisions to skip the speech were personal and were not part of an organized boycott.

“I can emphatically say it is not an organized effort,” Butterfield said, adding: “The only thing I can control is my attendance.”


AP White House Correspondent Julie Pace and Associated Press writers Nedra Pickler and Andrew Taylor contributed to this report.


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Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

28 Replies to “3 prominent House Democrats vow to skip Netanyahu speech”

  1. The choice for Democrats is support our President or support a foreign politician who is going to be permitted push contrary and dangers policies in the peoples House. This should be a no brainer for the Democrats.

  2. We need to pressure Democrats by contacting as many as we can. Starting with Pelosi, VP Biden and Reid.

    That speech ain’t happening.

  3. If Nancy Pelosi attends she might as well slap the POTUS in the face, way to go dems for sticking together in unity, just what the repugs want you to do “divide and they will conquer” “go for it no balls dems”. A problem the dems have had for years they can’t stick together for the countries sake.

  4. GWC, exactly right. The GOP loves to see division amongst the Dems. They never learn. This is exactly WHY we lost 2014.

    None of them should go, and I’m surprised at NP.

  5. If participating in this type of event is considered too be an “act of treason” against the U.S.A. (committed by some of our GOP Govt. officials and Israels foreign leaders) then could “anyone” who is actually “aware” that this event is considered as an “act of treason” and they still “attend” such an event shouldn’t they also be charged with committing an act of treason? And what is Israel doing now to stop the current terrorist threats and attacks taking place in their very own back yard today??? We give them enough military assistance and money they should be now helping their “neighbors” and us out with a few air and ground strikes and “rescue operations” for downed pilots etc.. In my opinion. What do we pay them for???

  6. I think they should let Netanyahu think their going to attend, and then skip the farce. Humiliation would be poetic justice for this asshole. The only thing better would be an agreement with the Iranians before his speech.

  7. Thats all this is, political grandstanding. Netanyahu thinking that he can disrupt the talks with Iran by convincing congress that the President is making a mistake and congress will take action to stop the talks. Boehner, attempting to flex his muscle, showing the President that he [Boehner] has as much power as the President.

    Its all part of the political game that has totally backfired. Neither of these two belong in any leadership position. I hope all the Democrats turn their backs on both of them.

  8. If Israel were to get more involved then she would be inviting more attacks on her. However, Israel HAS been involved in some bombing runs in Syria.
    Most of the military aid Israel receives from us is spent in this country. And we get the benefit of Israel’s new weapons.
    Keep in mind that Israel is o our best ally in the middle east.
    Israel is the ONLY democracy in that part of the world. And she is the ONLY NATION at which permits U.S. aircraft to land without having to ask permission!
    I’m pretty glad to have an ally like Israel.

  9. Aw, the poor babies, They’re not sure whose butt to kiss! Here’s a hint for you guys, you had better hope that Hillary washes her butt regularly! Of course, if you don’t want to be butt kissers, there’s still more than enough time to vote for the Green Party or the socialists! But, that’s only if you don’t want to be butt kissers! Your choice! BTW, you’ve got a little bit, . . right there, in the corner of your mouth!

  10. I have told my Senators Schumer and Gillibrand that if they attend and participate in this insult to the sovereignty of our nation and to the President of the United States my checkbook is closed to them. I have told Pelosi and Reid that if they do not boycott this Netanyahu address I will never give another red cent to the Democratic Party. Any Member of Congress who attends this speech is a traitor to this country and should be slut shamed out of office.

  11. Israel is not a democracy. It is a socialist theocracy. Israel is a war criminal and it is Israel who has created the terrorism that now infects the world. America needs to cut Israel off our welfare rolls and keep those billions and billions of taxpayer dollars at home for our own people. It is the Israelis’ brutal occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people on the Palestinians own land that has created the terror chaos in the world. It is past time to kick Israel to the curb.

  12. These three had better stick to their decision to not attend Bebe’s speech before the House.

    In fact, ALL THE DEMS need not attend. This is another GOP affront to President Obama.

    It’s passed time that they grew a spine and support the President!

  13. Do you know how many of our Members of Congress are dual citizens of Israel? Look it up. You will be amazed at the names on that list.

  14. You know, insults and ad hominems are the surest signs that you don’t have any actual legitimate argument.

  15. The best advise for Bibi is this:

    Skip going to the Congress for the speech. Go to the White House instead and sit with Obama and his advisors behind closed doors in private. Period. Tell Bohner: Thanks but no thanks. You have set a trap for me instead.
    Then come out of the meeting with the President and issue a brief statement: “It went well, let’s see what happens going forth. Okay? That’s all I got to say now.” Then tell Boehner: “I’ll meet you at the bar at 4:00 for some Johnny Walker on the rocks, ok?”

  16. The real meltdown on the Right is going to come when Joe Biden, the PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE, decides to skip Bibi’s dog and pony show.

  17. Pelosi will stand with the democrats as the minority leader and not attend.
    She knows better and wouldn’t have pulled a stupid stunt like this.

  18. New Bibi Excuse- Blame John Boehner
    Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister Tzachi Hanegbi appeared on a Tel Aviv radio program today and completely threw John Boehner under a bus. Mr. Hanegbi insisted that the invitation for Netanyahu to speak before a Joint Session of Congress had been misrepresented.

  19. Yes, Maggie, I can understand how you feel. So do I. However, I’ve said before, and I’ll say it again. I think the Dems should show up. Then, when the devil from Israel starts his speech, All the Dems should stand en masse and turn their backs and walk out, together, and silently. It will be televised, and would be shown all over the world. I, for one, would LOVE to see that!

  20. My Dear Dem Friends,
    Please read my reply to Maggie, and think about encouraging that behavior to your reps and sens. It would be a huge put-down to Boehner, Netanyahu, and the rest of the so smug teathuglikkkans!

  21. No he shouldn’t cancel his speech those that are to stupid to attend can just go sit in a corner somewhere they aren’t important anyways.

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