Lawmakers have been chased around Capitol Hill to answer the question of whether or not they’ll attend Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s March 3 address to a joint session of Congress.
But a resolution introduced in the Senate today will put them on the record of supporting Netanyahu’s visit or not.
Majority Whip John Cornyn (-Texas) introduced the resolution today, which recognizes the “government of Iran’s ongoing pursuit of nuclear weapons poses a tremendous threat both to the United States and Israel,” and that Congress has “heard the perspectives, both publicly and privately, of a number of close allies involved” in the P5+1 nuclear negotiations.
The resolution states that the Senate “warmly welcomes” Netanyahu in a “timely opportunity to reinforce the United States-Israel relationship” and “eagerly awaits” his address.
It reaffirms the Senate’s “commitment to stand with Israel during times of uncertainty” and the “unequivocal and bipartisan support for the friendship between the people and governments of the United States and Israel.”
“During this time of such great instability and danger in the Middle East, the United States should be unequivocal about our commitment to one of our closest and most important allies,” Cornyn said in a statement. “I hope all my colleagues will join me in welcoming Prime Minister Netanyahu to Washington so we can continue to work together to advance our common security interests.”
Co-sponsors of the resolution are Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Jim Moran (R-Kansas), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Pete Sessions (R-Ala.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), John Thune (R-S.D.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), David Vitter (R-La.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).
With GOP majorities in the House and Senate, the resolution will likely get pushed through to President Obama’s desk quickly. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), though, is not among the original co-sponsors.
Cornyn said on the Senate floor today that he could not think of a “more timely or critical subject” than the threat of Iran and terrorism to hear about from “one of the world’s great leaders.”
The senator called the opposition to Netanyahu’s address “mystifying and somewhat disappointing.”
Cornyn is also circulating a “Dear Colleague” letter inviting all senators to join in support of the resolution.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu said his speech to Congress will be about the ‘very survival’ of the State of Israel. Therefore, I believe it is critical for every Member of Congress to hear directly from the Prime Minister of our closest friend and ally in the region on how we can work together to confront the common challenges of Islamic extremism and a nuclear Iran,” Gardner said.
“It’s never been more important for the United States to stand strong beside Israel. I will use my position on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to consistently advocate for policies which serve to strengthen this critical partnership. Israel’s enemies have consistently threatened to wipe Israel off the map. It’s our job to ensure that never happens.”