Skip to main content

Speaker Johnson says Israel’s Netanyahu to address Congress soon

The speech will mark the second time Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has addressed a joint session of Congress.
House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) greets people attending the unveiling of a statue of evangelist Rev. William Franklin "Billy" Graham, Sr. at the Capitol in Statuary Hall, Washington, DC, May 16, 2024.

WASHINGTON — The Republican leader of the US House of Representatives said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will "soon" address a joint session of Congress. 

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) made the announcement while delivering the keynote speech at the Israeli Embassy In Washington’s Independence Day reception on Thursday evening.

"This will be a timely and I think a very strong show of support to the Israeli government in their time of greatest need," Johnson said.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has signed onto the invitation, Israel's Channel 13 news reported. Schumer, the highest-ranking elected Jewish official in American history, made headlines in March when he called for new elections to replace Netanyahu when the Gaza war is over.

The invitation is likely to anger left-leaning Democratic lawmakers concerned by the Israeli military's conduct in Gaza, where the estimated death toll now exceeds 35,700. Nearly 800,000 Palestinians have been displaced amid Israel's ongoing operations in the southern city of Rafah, according to the United Nations. 

It won’t be the first time Netanyahu has waded into US politics with an appearance before a joint session of Congress. His 2015 address set off a political firestorm in part because then-House Speaker John Boehner didn’t consult the White House before greenlighting it.

Dozens of Democrats boycotted the prime minister's speech assailing the Obama administration’s nuclear negotiations with Iran. Neither former President Barack Obama nor Joe Biden, then vice president, met with Netanyahu during his two-day visit to Washington. 

Netanyahu's latest invitation to speak before Congress comes after Johnson drew criticism from congressional Democrats over his decision not extend a similar invite to Kenyan President William Rutto, who met with President Joe Biden on a state visit to Washington this week.