McCollum to skip Netanyahu speech to Congress

Minnesota U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum said she’s skipping Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to a joint session of Congress on Mar. 3.

McCollum, a Democrat, said she  won't attend the event because Netanyahu’s speech is scheduled on the eve of presidential elections in Israel. She said she’s disappointed Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner invited Netanyahu to speak without consulting first with President Obama.

Here’s McCollum’s full statement:

“As a Member of Congress, the national security interests of the United States are my highest priority. So, I find it very disturbing when a foreign leader in the midst of a campaign for re-election is allowed to address Congress for the sole purpose of undermining a foreign policy priority shared by the Obama administration and our European allies to score political points at home.

In my view Mr. Netanyahu’s speech before Congress is nothing more than a campaign event hosted by Speaker Boehner and paid for by the American people. Mr. Netanyahu’s re-election campaign is not my concern, but politicizing and damaging the U.S.-Israeli relationship by aligning his government with Republicans in Congress against President Obama is something I completely reject.

For these reasons, I will not be attending his address to a joint session of Congress next month.”

McCollum’s statement comes on the same day President Obama is defending his decision to not meet with Netanyahu during his trip.

Reuters is reporting that Netanyahu is considering some changes to his speech as a result of the criticism but a spokesman for Boehner says the speech is still on the schedule.

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