Schumer poised to join Johnson invite for Netanyahu address to Congress

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is poised to join Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) in inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to deliver an address to Congress, despite tensions between the Israeli leader and many Democrats over the ongoing war in the Middle East.

Johnson told The Hill this week that he sent Schumer a draft invitation around a month ago, but the Senate leader has been sitting on it since.

“I sent a letter draft, because it’s a bicameral invitation letter, it’s been sitting on Chuck Schumer’s desk. As far as I know he has not cosigned it yet,” Johnson said, adding that it was sent “probably a month ago.”.

But now, Schumer is ready to sign on, according to his office.

“He intends to join the invitation, the timing is being worked out,” the Senate leader’s spokesperson told The Hill.

The Hill was first to report on Johnson’s draft invitation and Schumer’s plan to sign it.

Netanyahu’s visit — if it does materialize — is sure to spark outrage among liberals, who have strongly criticized the prime minister’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war and the growing number of civilian deaths in the Gaza Strip.

It will also come amid a tense moment in the relationship between Schumer — the highest-ranking Jewish official in U.S. history — and Netanyahu, after the Senate leader called for new elections in Israel to replace the longtime conservative leader.

Schumer in a speech on the Senate floor said Netanyahu had “lost his way,” comments that the Israeli prime minister called “totally inappropriate.”

Johnson first floated the idea of inviting Netanyahu to the Capitol in March, after it was brought up during a closed-door House GOP conference meeting. The next day, however, he said he would “certainly” extend an invitation.

“I would love to have him come and address a joint session of Congress,” Johnson told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” in an interview. “We’ll certainly extend that invitation.”

Schumer at the time said “I will always welcome the opportunity for the Prime Minister of Israel to speak to Congress in a bipartisan way.”

“Israel has no stronger ally than the United States and our relationship transcends any one president or any one Prime Minister,” he added in a statement.

Invitations for foreign leaders to address Congress are typically extended on behalf of Congressional leaders. There are not, however, formal procedures for inviting foreign leaders to address Congress, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Netanyahu last addressed Congress in 2015, a speech that put a spotlight on the long-running tensions between liberals Democrats and conservative Netanyahu. A number of Democrats skipped the event in protest of the Israeli leader, who utilized his time in the Capitol to criticize then-President Obama over the Iran nuclear deal.

Updated at 7:32 p.m. EST.

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