Here comes Bibi!

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Article Summary
Congress turns its attention away from other business this week as it prepares for the addres of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Prepare to hear a lot about Iran and its threat to Israel this coming week.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses the pro-Israel lobby American Israel Public Affairs Committee's (AIPAC) annual policy conference on March 2 and the US Congress on March 3 in an all-out effort to turn hesitant lawmakers against the current negotiations — and stay in power past this month's elections. Congressional hawks, who released yet another Iran bill on Feb. 27, are hoping to use his visit to galvanize Democrats into voting for a pair of AIPAC-backed measures that President Barack Obama has vowed to veto.

The visit, however, also risks weakening Israel's influence by turning Iran into a partisan issue. Some 32 Democrats in the House and Senate intend to skip Netanyahu's speech, according to the latest count by the congressional newspaper The Hill.

The White House, furious that Netanyahu's visit was organized behind their backs by Republicans critical of Obama's diplomacy with Iran, will only be sending National Security Adviser Susan Rice and Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power to the conference. Other notable policymakers speaking at AIPAC this coming week include Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., (March 2) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. (March 3).

Iran will also be in the spotlight during a House Foreign Affairs panel on the Middle East hearing on March 5 on “Iran’s noncompliance with its international Atomic Energy Agency obligations.”

The Islamic State is also still on the docket. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee receives a closed-door briefing on the issue on March 3 from Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the State Department’s Brett McGurk, the deputy presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Meanwhile, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter testifies alongside Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey before the Senate Committee on Armed Services on March 3 during a hearing on the fiscal year 2016 Defense Authorization request.

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Found in: us congress, nuclear weapon, islamic state, iran, iaea, benjamin netanyahu, barack obama, aipac

Julian Pecquet is Al-Monitor's Washington Editor. He was previously Congressional Correspondent from 2014 through May 2017 and most recently before that headed up The Hill's Global Affairs blog. On Twitter: @JPecquet_ALM, Email: jpecquet@al-monitor.com.

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