Thursday, February 19, 2015

It Says a Lot About the Democratic Party That Only 23 Dems Signed This Letter

For the past few weeks, Keith Ellison (MN-05), Maxine Waters (CA-43), and Steve Cohen (TN-09) have been circulating a letter around House Democrats urging John Boehner to postpone his invitation to Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu to speak before a joint session of Congress.

Here is the text of the letter:
We write to urge you to postpone your invitation to Prime Minister Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress in March…

The timing of this invitation and lack of coordination with the White House indicate that this is not an ordinary diplomatic visit.  Rather this appears to be an attempt to promote new sanctions legislation against Iran that could undermine critical negotiations between the P5+1 and Iran. At the State of the Union President Obama made it clear that he will veto new Iran sanctions legislation. The invitation to Prime Minister Netanyahu enlists a foreign leader to influence a Presidential policy initiative. We should be able to disagree on foreign policy within our American political system and without undermining the Presidency.

Aside from being improper, this places Israel, a close and valued ally, in the middle of a policy debate between Congress and the White House. As members of Congress who support Israel, we share concerns that it appears that you are using a foreign leader as a political tool against the president. We should not turn our diplomatic friendship into a partisan issue. Beyond threatening our diplomatic priorities, the timing of this invitation offers the Congressional platform to elevate a candidate in a foreign election.
A visit from Israel’s Prime Minister would normally be an occasion for bipartisan cooperation and support. Our relationship with Israel is too important to use as a pawn in political gamesmanship. We strongly urge you to postpone this invitation until Israelis have cast their ballots and our consideration of the current round of Iran-related legislation has concluded. When the Israeli Prime Minister visits us outside the specter of partisan politics, we will be delighted and honored to greet him or her on the Floor of the House.
There is nothing controversial about this letter. It doesn't even challenge the bipartisan consensus around Israel. 
And the public seems to agree with Ellison, Waters, and Cohen. A recent poll by CNN found that 63 percent of Americans and 81 percent of Democrats think Boehner was wrong to invite Netanyahu to address Congress without notifying Obama.

But how many of their colleagues were they able to get to sign on to their letter?

Only twenty.

Earl Blumenauer (OR-03)
André Carson (IN-07)
John Conyers (MI-13)
Danny Davis (IL-07)
Pete DeFazio (OR-04)
Luis Gutiérrez (IL-04)
Hank Johnson (GA-04)
Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30)
Barbara Lee (CA-13)
Betty McCollum (MN-04)
Jim McGovern (MA-02)
Jim McDermott (WA-07)
Beto O’Rourke (TX-16)
Donald Payne (NJ-10)
Chellie Pingree (ME-01)
Mark Pocan (WI-02)
Mark Takano (CA-41)
Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12)
Pete Welch (VT-AL)
John Yarmuth (KY-03)

Republicans are having a foreign leader speak before Congress to openly disparage the president and attempt to sabotage the president's foreign policy. One would think that it would be a no-brainer for Democrats to at the least sign this letter but also not attend. But, instead, most Democrats will just wring their hands a bit and then go, giving a Netanyahu a standing ovation for every single thing he says.

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