Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi slammed House Speaker John Boehner Thursday for inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress without first consulting the White House or other Democrats on the Hill.
“It's out of the ordinary that the Speaker would decide that he would be inviting people to a joint session without any bipartisan consultation” Pelosi told reporters at her weekly press conference.
Pelosi noted that when she served as Speaker of the House, leaders of both parties and the White House were made aware when heads of state would be addressing Congress.
She also suggested that it is not "appropriate" for Netanhayu to come to the United States shortly before his own re-election.
“This presentation will take place within two weeks of the election in Israel,” she said. “I don't think that's appropriate for any country, that the head of state would come here within two weeks of his own election in his own country.”
The Obama administration said Thursday that the president will not meet with Netanhayu during his visit, citing a long-standing policy that presidents do not meet with heads of state or candidates shortly before elections in order do avoid the perception of influencing the outcome.
Boehner announced Wednesday he had invited Netanyahu to speak before a joint session of Congress next month to address threats posed by radical Islam and Iran, an apparent rebuke of President Barack Obama’s policies.
GOP leaders have called for additional sanctions on Iran, which both the White House and Pelosi believe would “undermine” diplomatic efforts.
Diplomatic efforts with Iran “may or may not succeed,” Pelosi said, but “we cannot have it fail because Congress wants to flex its muscle unnecessarily” and impose sanctions.
The Israeli Embassy in Washington confirmed Thursday that the Prime Minister has accepted Boehner’s invitation.
“I look forward to being able to share with the joint session Israel's vision for working together to address these threats and to reiterate Israel's commitment to the bond that unites our two democracies,” Netanyahu said in a statement.