House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress. He did not consult with President Obama first before making this invitation, which some have seen as disrespectful to the White House. The president’s press secretary, Josh Earnest, called it a breach of protocol. Two things make this more than ignoring diplomatic procedure. Boehner invited Netanyahu one day after President Obama announced he would veto any new sanctions against Iran. Prime Minister Netanyahu will be speaking to a joint session of Congress mere weeks before the Israeli election.
Dr. Jennifer Walden knows that many are refusing to attend the prime minister’s speech. “As soon as I found out the Republican leadership had invited Netanyahu in the middle of an Israeli election,” said Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon), “without consulting the administration and frankly with the determination to undercut negotiations on an agreement with Iran, I made it clear I was not going to dignify it with my presence.” Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota) said he was “uncomfortable being part of an event that I don’t believe should be happening.”
Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), both named as potential presidential candidates, have announced they will not be attending the speech. Warren emphasized her continued support for Israel, but called Speaker Boehner’s invitation “more political and less helpful for addressing the critical issue of nuclear nonproliferation and the safety of our most important ally in the Middle East.”