Some House Democrats have penned a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) asking him to call off Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s March 3 address to Congress.
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), one of the signatories on the letter who’s received ample fundraising help from “pro-peace,” anti-Netanyahu J Street over the years, complained to MSNBC that Boehner was using Congress as a “television studio” to promote GOP causes.
“I don’t think we should have a person up for election in two weeks and a person who’s obviously being used politically to attack the president’s position on negotiations with Iran that are so important. I would like the speaker to put the speech off until after the latter of the two circumstances so that Prime Minister Netanyahu can have a dialogue that is not considered political and isn’t political,” Cohen said.
“Right now, the House of Representatives is being turned into a political theater. A couple of weeks ago, there was an attempt to pass a bill that would have in essence revoke Roe v. Wade. And it was done at a time that there was a pro-life crowd up here marching on the anniversary of the passage of — not the passage but the declaration of Roe v. Wade. And it was done for political theater.”
Cohen said Netanyahu’s visit is “political theater too and the United States House of Representatives shouldn’t be used for political theater.
“It’s hurting the House. And I think what’s going on now is hurting Israel, because there’s so many people including myself who are strong supporters of Israel who don’t think this is good for Israel,” the congressman said, adding “Israel needs to be close to the United States and close to the president for its protection and its future.”
Cohen argued Boehner “should have not invited Prime Minister Netanyahu and put him in this position.”
“Speaking before a Congress with congressmen standing up and applauding, which will happen, will probably help Netanyahu in his election, and it helps Boehner with Republicans appeal to people that are supportive of Israel, particularly the AIPAC crowd, this meeting in Washington that week. And it’s kind of like whichever crowd comes to Washington, whether it’s the pro-life crowd, January, or AIPAC in March, we’re going to use Congress as a television studio to help promote the Republican tide of that group,” he said.
“And that’s just wrong. We should be legislating, and we should be — not interjecting politics and foreign policy. You know, the president controls foreign policy, if these negotiations don’t work, if there is not an agreement, there is going to be war. There’s going to be bombings in Iran.”
Cohen said he’s still deciding whether to attend Netanyahu’s speech. Some Dems have already said they will not boycott the address.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the top Dem on the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN that “it was a bad idea for the speaker to extend the invitation right before the Israeli elections, but look, he did extend it.”
“It has been accepted. I’m planning to be there to welcome the prime minister,” Schiff said. “…I think this — kind of this kerfuffle over this has got to be greatly well received in Iran, because to the degree that it shows any division between us and our Israeli allies or within the two parties in Congress is simply not good for the relationship. And I look forward to this coming to an end.”