Tags: Benjamin Netanyahu | Congress speech | Obama | Iran | Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz on Netanyahu Speech: Obama Reluctant to 'Hear Dissenting Voice' on Iran

By    |   Friday, 13 February 2015 04:57 PM

Republican leaders are berating the Obama administration and some Democrat lawmakers for "undermining" Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to Congress with a manufactured controversy and a boycott of the March 3 talk, The Washington Free Beacon reports.

There was no breach in protocol with Netanyahu's acceptance of an invitation to address Congress next month, as was initially widely reported, and a correction in The New York Times noted the Israeli leader agreed to speak only after the White House was informed.

"There is growing evidence that, as The New York Times correction demonstrates, this was never an issue of protocol — Prime Minister Netanyahu's office followed protocol by accepting the invitation only after the White House was notified," Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz told the Free Beacon.

"The real issue is the president's reluctance to hear a dissenting voice challenging his assumption that the Iranians are negotiating in good faith over their nuclear program."

Fellow Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn declared a majority of his colleagues have signed a letter welcoming Netanyahu in the face of the threatened boycott by some Democrat lawmakers.

More than a dozen congressional Democrats say they plan to skip the address, The Hill reports.

"I hope the rest of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will join me in welcoming the prime minister to Washington so we can continue to work together as he details in graphic detail like no one else can do the threat of a nuclear Iran," Cornyn said on the Senate floor Thursday, the Free Beacon reports.

Illinois Republican Sen. Mark Kirk, a leading supporter of a bill to slap new sanctions on Iran, says it's no time for Congress to waver in its support of Israel.

"At a time when the civilized world faces Islamic extremist threats not just from the [Islamic State], but also from a nuclear Iran and its terror proxies, the United States should speak with one voice and stand with our allies," Kirk told the Free Beacon.

House Speaker John Boehner called Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer in early January to gauge Netanyahu's interest in speaking to Congress about Iran. On Jan. 20, Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell formally extended the invitation to Netanyahu and informed the White House the following day, the Free Beacon reports.

Netanyahu only agreed to speak after Congress and the White House were informed about the invite, the newspaper reports.

Some Democrats are outraged.

"It's inappropriate to have a deliberate effort by the speaker and Prime Minister Netanyahu to sabotage the negotiating that we have with Iran," Oregon Democrat Rep. Earl Blumenauer told CNN, according to a transcript of his remarks.

But New York Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin said a boycott is offensive.

"It is an unnecessary reckless act of foolishness to skip out on this joint session of Congress," Zeldin told the Free Beacon. "It's a critical hour and there really should be no questions where they belong. It's very telling as to who has their priorities misplaced when looking around that room and seeing who decides to skip out for all the wrong reasons."

Michigan Republican Rep. Tim Walberg, a member of the Israel Allies Caucus, added there's nothing wrong with Netanyahu talking about the Iranian threat as negotiations near their end.

"Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has a real and consequential understanding of the dangers in allowing Iran to procure a nuclear missile," Walberg told the Free Beacon. "With both Israel and the United States' safety and security at stake, the speaker did the right thing by inviting the prime minister to address Congress."

In a statement, Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio is begging his Democrat colleagues to relent.

"You have your right to voice your concerns, but don't do this to an ally; don't do this to a nation that is as threatened today as it has ever been at any time in its existence," Rubio said, the Free Beacon reports.

"Don't do this to a people that are in the crosshairs of multiple terrorist groups with the capability of attacking them."

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Republican leaders are berating the Obama administration and some Democrat lawmakers for "undermining" Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to Congress with a manufactured controversy.
Benjamin Netanyahu, Congress speech, Obama, Iran, Ted Cruz
Friday, 13 February 2015 04:57 PM
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