Johnson gives Schumer deadline to join invitation for Netanyahu to address Congress

No timeline for the speech has been laid out so far, but if Netanyahu accepts, it would mark his first speech to Congress since 2015.

Published: May 21, 2024 5:40pm

House Speaker Mike Johnson said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has until Tuesday to sign onto an invitation for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress, otherwise the House will send its invitation alone.

Schumer previously said that he intends to join the invitation, but that the timing of when the address would take place was still being worked out. If Johnson were to invite him alone then the Israeli leader would only address the House, but senators would be invited to attend. Johnson originally sent the draft letter to Schumer last month.

“My office told Sen. Schumer’s office yesterday that he needed to sign the joint letter, and if not, we were gonna proceed and invite Netanyahu just to the House, and I’ll send individual invitations to senators,” Johnson told reporters on Tuesday, per The Hill, and confirmed the deadline for Schumer's response was also Tuesday.

No timeline for the speech has been laid out so far, but if Netanyahu accepts, it would mark his first speech to Congress since 2015. The invitation and speech are expected to draw condemnation from some liberal lawmakers who have criticized Israel's response to its war with Hamas. During the 2015 address, some Democrats skipped the speech in protest.

Schumer said he does still intend to sign the letter, and supports having Netanyahu address Congress in a joint meeting.

“I’m discussing that now with the Speaker of the House and as I’ve always said, our relationship with Israel is ironclad and transcends any one prime minister or president,” Schumer told The Hill.

Johnson's ultimatum to Schumer was given on the same day as the International Criminal Court requested arrest warrants for Netanyahu and other Israeli officials, along with three Hamas officials. The ICC's move has been slammed by both congressional leaders, though some progressive lawmakers like Sen. Bernie Sanders have celebrated the arrest warrants, claiming it was "right" of the international body to do so.

Schumer has also criticized Netanyahu, even as he supports Israel's right to defend itself against a terror attack. Schumer said Netanyahu has "lost his way" and called for Israeli elections to replace him as its leader during a Senate floor speech in March. The Israeli leader blasted Schumer's remarks as "totally inappropriate" at the time.

Misty Severi is an evening news reporter for Just the News. You can follow her on X for more coverage.

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