The list of Democrats who are calling for John Boehner to postpone Netanyahu’s speech before Congress has grown to nearly two dozen as opposition swells to the partisan political stunt.
The Democrats’ letter to Boehner read in part:
We write to urge you to postpone your invitation to Prime Minister Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress in March….
The timing of this invitation and lack of coordination with the White House indicate that this is not an ordinary diplomatic visit. Rather this appears to be an attempt to promote new sanctions legislation against Iran that could undermine critical negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran. At the State of the Union President Obama made it clear that he will veto new Iran sanctions legislation. 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.
Aside from being improper, this places Israel, a close and valued ally, in the middle of a policy debate between Congress and the White House. As members of Congress who support Israel, we share concerns that it appears that you are using a foreign leader as a political tool against the president. We should not turn our diplomatic friendship into a partisan issue. Beyond threatening our diplomatic priorities, the timing of this invitation offers the Congressional platform to elevate a candidate in a foreign election.
The list of House Democrats who have signed the letter has grown to twenty-three and includes, Keith Ellison, Steve Cohen, Maxine Waters, Earl Blumenauer, André Carson, John Conyers, Jr., Danny Davis, Peter DeFazio, Luis Gutiérrez, Henry “Hank” Johnson, Jr., Eddie Bernice Johnson, Barbara Lee, Betty McCollum, James McGovern, Jim McDermott, Beto O’Rourke, Donald Payne, Chellie Pingrie, Mark Pocan, Mark Takano, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Peter Welch, John Yarmuth.
Greg Sargent suggested that the Democratic outrage over the Netanyahu invite isn’t a big deal, because Democratic congressional leaders are planning on attending the speech, but the anger over the Netanyahu speech is relevant because a sizeable number of Democrats are not following their leadership. Unlike the meltdowns on the Republican side, Democratic leaders aren’t pushing for a unified position on the speech. Democrats aren’t divided so much as each Democrat is making his/her own decision on whether or not to attend the speech.
It appears that Netanyahu will be addressing dozens of empty seats when he speaks to Congress. Dozens of Democrats and Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders are supporting the president by not attending. The Beltway media may try to downplay it, but liberal Democrats in Congress are still flexing their muscles and speaking out.