15 Dems to Boycott Netanyahu Speech to Joint Session of Congress


House Speaker John boehner (R-Ohio) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (AP)

(CNSNews.com) – The number of Democrats who say they won’t attend a March 3 joint session of Congress where Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to speak now number 15, according to The Hill.

Some have cited House Speaker John Boehner’s invitation to Netanyahu without informing the White House as a snub to President Barack Obama, and some believe Netanyahu will use the opportunity to criticize the president’s negotiations with Iran over its nuclear ambitions.

While Vice President Joe Biden has cited a scheduling conflict as the reason he will not attend Netanyahu’s speech, other Democrats are more blatantly opposed to it, ranging from Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), who labeled the event a “stunt” to Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), who called it a Republican “campaign event.”

Here is the list of Democrats who are skipping Netanyahu’s speech, compiled by The Hill:

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (Ore.) wrote a Jan. 29 column in The Huffington Post explaining his decision, saying the Constitution “vests the responsibility for foreign affairs in the president.”

Rep. G.K. Butterfield (N.C.), head of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), focuses on Boehner undermining Obama in a statement. He also emphasizes he’s not urging a boycott.

Rep. James Clyburn (S.C.) is the highest-ranking Democratic leader to say he’ll skip the speech.

Rep. Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.) is a co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC).

Rep. Luis Gutiérrez’s (Ill.) spokesman told the Chicago Sun-Times the congressman has a “strong” record on Israel but called the speech “a stunt.”

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.)

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (Texas) — “The Congresswoman has no plans to attend the speech at this time,” a spokeswoman said.

Rep. Barbara Lee (Calif.) is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus and former head of the CPC.

Rep. John Lewis’s (Ga.) office confirmed he’s not going but emphasizes he’s not organizing a formal boycott.

Rep. Betty McCollum (Minn.) said in a statement, “In my view Mr. Netanyahu’s speech before Congress is nothing more than a campaign event hosted by Speaker Boehner and paid for by the American people.”

Rep. Jim McDermott (Wash.) emailed a Seattle newspaper, saying, “I do not intend to attend the speech of Bibi.”

Rep. Gregory Meeks (N.Y.) is another CBC member skipping the speech.

Rep. Charles Rangel (N.Y.)

Sen. Patrick Leahy (Vt.) called it a “tawdry and high-handed stunt,” according to a Vermont newspaper.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said it is “wrong” that Obama wasn’t consulted about the speech.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported that Netanyahu is weighing addressing a closed session of Congress or moving the speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual meeting.

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