Mike Johnson says Netanyahu invite to address Congress will happen

 March 21, 2024

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) said Thursday that he will invite Israeli Prime Minister to address the U.S. Congress in the coming weeks in response to criticism of him by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). 

 "We'll certainly extend that invitation," Johnson told CNBC's "Squawk Box" after Axios reported Wednesday that House Republicans were considering such a move.

Johnson said he had been invited to address the Knesset, Israel's parliamentary body, and that both sides were trying to "work out schedules" to make it happen.

There has not been confirmation that Schumer would agree to have Netanyahu address the joint houses of Congress.

Words between them

Schumer called last week for Netanyahu to consider new elections in Israel amid discontent with how the leader was handling the war with Hamas taking place in Gaza.

Netanyahu responded to the call by saying Sunday on CNN:

It’s inappropriate to go to a sister democracy and try to replace the elected leadership there. That’s something that Israel, the Israeli public does on its own, and we’re not a banana republic. The majority of Israelis support the policies of my government. It’s not a fringe government. It represents the policies supported by the majority of the people. If Sen. Schumer opposes these policies, he’s not opposing me. He’s opposing the people of Israel.

For his part, Johnson said he was in control of inviting Netanyahu to address the House, and if Schumer wasn't willing, then the Israeli PM could just address the House.

"I think a big majority of that Senate would want to come and stand in support of Netanyahu and Israel," he said.

Is it likely?

Netanyahu addressed the Senate Republican lunch on Wednesday virtually, Axios reported.

A senior Israeli official told Axios that an address to the full Congress by Netanyahu was not likely because of disagreement from Schumer.

"We don't think such an agreement is likely and Netanyahu isn't going to come and speak in front of half of Congress," the official said.

The debate comes as Congress is trying to pass further aid to Israel and Ukraine to help with the conflicts each faces.

Not the first time

It is not the first time Netanyahu's addressing Congress has caused disagreement and controversy.

In 2015 Republicans invited him to address Congress without informing then-President Barack Obama about their plans. Then-Vice President Joe Biden, who presides over the Senate, did not attend the speech.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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