Pelosi On Netanyahu Invite: Congress Should Not Be A ‘Political Arena’
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she is “really sad” that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will speak before a joint session of Congress, and mourned the use of the House floor as a “political arena.”
“It’s really something that we should be able to resolve,” she said Thursday referring to Speaker John Boehner’s contentious invitation to Netanyahu. “Maybe we even have to review the idea of joint sessions of Congress, because they should not be a political arena two weeks before an election.”
Netanyahu is scheduled to address Congress February 11, weeks before he faces a tough re-election, and in the midst of Obama’s ongoing and delicate negotiations with Iran over nuclear weapons. The White House is pleading for more time to negotiate in order to exhaust diplomatic options, and Obama has promised to veto any new congressional sanctions on Iran.
White House officials were “flabbergasted” when Boehner announced the invitation without advance warning, in a move that could undermine Obama’s work. And some Democrats have threatened to boycott Netanyahu’s speech. (RELATED: White House Was ‘Flabbergasted’ Netanyahu Accepted Boehner Invite)
Pelosi said she’s gotten calls from Netanyahu supporters saying it’s “outrageous” the floor of the House would be exploited for political purposes in Israel and the United States.
“It isn’t that there isn’t any respect and admiration, even an affection for the prime minister, and certainly strong ties to Israel,” Pelosi said. “But at this time I think it would be better if we didn’t have [Netanyahu come].
“We all know that Iran can’t get a nuclear weapon,” she said. “We all know that everything is on the table and in order to have a moral authority on how we proceed we have to have the world see that we tried everything with Iran, and hopefully that will work.”
Pelosi downplayed reports of Democrats threatening to boycott the address. “People are meeting with constituents and the rest,” she said. “It’s not a high priority with them.”
Pelosi said she is “seriously considering” attending the address, but is “ever optimistic” Netanyahu will change his mind. “You never know, things happen in people’s schedule,” she said. “They do. You just never know.”
Boehner said Thursday he does not regret the invitation. “It was a very good idea, and there’s a message that the American people need to hear,” he said. “And I think he’s the perfect person to deliver.”
“The threat of radical islamic terrorists is a real threat. The threat of Iran is a real threat. And I believe that the American people are interested in hearing the truth about what’s happening in that part of the world.”
Pelosi said a meeting with leading Democrats about the invitation was “marked by sadness.”
“On my part anyway, really sad, that it has come to this. “Hopefully there will be a path out of the situation that we are in.”
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