Oh my... Netanyahu refuses to meet with Durbin and Feinsteinturned down a meeting with Democratic Senators Richard Durbin (Il) and Diane Feinstein (Ca) on the sidelines of his address to a joint session of Congress next week.This is from the first link.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined on Tuesday an invitation to meet with U.S. Senate Democrats during his trip to Washington next week.
"Though I greatly appreciate your kind invitation to meet with Democratic Senators, I believe that doing so at this time could compound the misperception of partisanship regarding my upcoming visit," Netanyahu wrote in a letter to Senators Richard Durbin and Dianne Feinstein obtained by Reuters.That actually makes sense if one accepts the premise that an address to a joint session of Congress that includes both Democrats and Republicans is (or ought to be) seen as non-partisan. What Netanyahu is saying is "if I meet separately with you, I will also have to meet separately with a delegation of Republican Senators."
But as you might imagine, this has made the Democrats go ballistic.
Susan E. Rice, President Obama’s national security adviser, sharply criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel on Tuesday over his plans to address a joint meeting of Congress next week, saying his actions had hurt his nation’s relationship with the United States.
Come on. Does anyone seriously believe that Netanyahu showing up on March 24 would see the Democrats having no objections? Meanwhile, Durbin said he's 'disappointed.'Mr. Netanyahu’s decision to travel to Washington to deliver the speech two weeks before the Israeli elections has “injected a degree of partisanship, which is not only unfortunate, I think it’s destructive of the fabric of the relationship,” Ms. Rice said in an interview on the PBS television program “Charlie Rose.”
“We offered the prime minister an opportunity to balance the politically divisive invitation from Speaker Boehner with a private meeting with Democrats who are committed to keeping the bipartisan support of Israel strong,” Mr. Durbin said in a statement. “His refusal to meet is disappointing to those of us who have stood by Israel for decades.”At least Durbin (effectively) admits that the Israeli elections have nothing to do with this. But since when is an invitation to address a joint session of Congress a partisan event? Since when does Congress have to ask the President's permission before inviting a foreign leader to its house? Is it not a co-equal branch of government in the United States?
Well, the answer seems to be that the joint session of Congress is becoming a partisan event since the Democrats insist on making it into one. The number of Democratic Senators and Representatives who plan to boycott Netanyahu's speech (undoubtedly under pressure from the White House) is growing.
Here is a list of the Democrats who are planning to skip the speech and those who are planning to go.Far more Democrats have said they will attend. Read the whole thing. Most of the Representatives on the list as not attending are Congressional Black Caucus members (who are concerned about Netanyahu's lack of 'respect' for Obama - respect that Obama has done nothing to earn) and known Leftists....
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.) — The head of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) focused on Boehner undermining Obama in a statement and emphasized he's not urging a boycott.
Rep. Andre Carson (Ind.)
Rep. James Clyburn (S.C.) — Clyburn is the highest-ranking Democratic leader to say he’ll skip the speech.
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.): “After deliberation, I have decided I cannot in good conscience attend the Prime Minister’s speech. My decision not to attend is not a reflection of my support for Israel and its continued existence as a state and home for the Jewish people. I have always strongly supported Israel and I always will,” said Cohen in a statement.
Rep. Diana DeGette (Colo.)
Rep. Donna Edwards (Md.)
Rep. Keith Ellison (Minn.) — He is head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), a member of the CBC and the first Muslim in Congress.
Rep. Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.) — Grijalva is a co-chairman of the CPC.
Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (Ill.) — A spokesman told the Chicago Sun-Times that Gutierrez 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.) — A member of the CBC and former head of the CPC.
Rep. John Lewis (Ga.) — His office confirmed he’s not going but emphasized he's not organizing a formal boycott
Rep. Betty McCollum (Minn.): "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," McCollum said in a statement."
Rep. Jim McDermott (Wash.) — “I do not intend to attend the speech of Bibi,” he said in an email to a Seattle newspaper.
Rep. Gregory Meeks (N.Y.) — A CBC member.
Rep. Beto O'Rourke (Texas)
Rep. Chellie Pingree (Maine)
Rep. Charles Rangel (N.Y.) — "I'm offended as an American," he said on MSNBC.
Rep. Cedric Richmond (La.)
Rep. Bennie Thompson (Miss.)
Rep. John Yarmuth (Ky.) — "We know what he is going to say," the Jewish lawmaker said in a statement.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (Vt.) — Leahy called it a "tawdry and high-handed stunt," according to a Vermont newspaper.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) — Sanders, who caucuses with Democrats, said it’s “wrong” that Obama wasn’t consulted about the speech.
Sen. Brian Schatz (Hawaii) — “The U.S.-Israel relationship is too important to be overshadowed by partisan politics," said Schatz in a statement. "I am disappointed in the Republican leadership’s invitation of Prime Minister Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress with the apparent purpose of undermining President Obama’s foreign policy prerogatives.”