US Senator Jack Reed and Representatives David Cicilline and Jim Langevin are among the Democrats planning to attend a controversial address Tuesday by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to a joint session of Congress. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse is passing on the address.
“I’m interested in what the prime minister is going to say,” Reed said in a statement released by his office. “I think it’s already been made an unnecessarily complicated political issue, but there is still this need to learn as much as we can about the situation.”
Whitehouse, meanwhile, said, "I am committed to a strong and lasting relationship between the United States and Israel, a country which represents our values in a very dangerous neighborhood. I do not plan to attend the Prime Minister’s speech. I’m concerned that behind it was a mischievous effort to manipulate domestic politics in both countries, which should not be the terms of engagement between friendly allies.”
Via statement, Langevin said, “Although the timing and circumstances are not what I would choose, I believe it is important to show respect to any head of state who addresses Congress, particularly on an issue as critical to global security as the ongoing negotiations with Iran.”
Representative David Cicilline, the only Jewish member of Rhode Island's congressional delegation, plans to attend Netanyahu's speech, according to spokeswoman Alex MarFarlane, who declined further comment.
The prime minister's speech is controversial since he was invited to speak by House Speaker John Boehner, who did not consult with the White House about the appearance.