Almost One in Four Democrats Will Boycott Bibi Speech

March 3, 2015  

Almost one in four House Democrats will boycott Tuesday’s address by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to the joint houses of Congress, writes The Hill.

At least 55 Democrats — eight senators and 47 House members — have said that they will not attend the speech, in which Netanyahu hopes to convince Congress, and the American nation, not to allow the administration of Barack Obama to sign a “bad deal” with Iran, over its nuclear wepons program.

Vice President Joe Biden, who is traveling abroad, will also be absent.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) added her name to the list Monday, according to the Boston Globe. “It’s unfortunate that Speaker Boehner’s actions on the eve of a national election in Israel have made Tuesday’s event 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,” Warren said in a statement.

“This has unfortunately become a partisan spectacle,” Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) said Monday, adding his name to the list of no-shows. “I’d be uncomfortable being part of an event that I don’t believe should be happening.”

Fear of the message

The Democrats say they oppose the speech because House Speaker John Boehner decided to invite Netanyahu without first discussing the idea with Democrats in the White House or Congress, and because it comes just a few weeks before election in Israel.

But The Hill adds that the critics also “fear Netanyahu’s message, which is expected to feature calls for tougher sanctions on Iran, could undermine the multilateral nuclear disarmament talks being led by the Obama administration, which opposes new sanctions while the negotiations are ongoing.”

“While success with Iran is far from assured, we must seek to overcome the misguided approach of those, like Mr. Netanyahu, who would reject any reasonable nuclear agreement,” Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), who is boycotting the speech, said Monday. “The only true alternative to an effective agreement is war with Iran. Scuttling nuclear negotiations with Iran would endanger every family in America and Israel.”

Republicans are solidly backing Netanyahu’s speech. “A nuclear-armed Iran is one of the gravest security threats facing both the United States and our ally Israel,” Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Sunday. “We have heard from countless experts, administration officials, and regional partners. Now, with a critical deadline only weeks away, Congress will appropriately hear from the prime minister of Israel.”

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