Updated Mar 21, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Schumer signals approval of Netanyahu address to Congress

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, wearing a dark gray suit, white shirt and blue tie, standing between U.S. and Israeli flags.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/Pool/AFP via Getty Images.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Thursday signaled he won't stand in the way of inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress.

Why it matters: House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) said earlier on Thursday he planned to invite Netanyahu to address at least the House — with or without Schumer's go-ahead.

  • "We'll certainly extend that invitation," Johnson said on CNBC's "Squawk Box," adding, "I'm the one that extends the invitations to speak in the House, and if we just have the House, that's fine too."
  • Johnson said he has also been invited to address the Israeli Knesset and "we're just trying to work out schedules on all this."

The latest: Schumer, in a statement, said Israel "has no stronger ally than the United States and our relationship transcends any one president or any one Prime Minister."

  • "I will always welcome the opportunity for the Prime Minister of Israel to speak to Congress in a bipartisan way," he added.
  • A Schumer spokesperson told Axios that Johnson hadn't discussed the invitation with Schumer as of Thursday morning.

Between the lines: A senior Israeli official had told Axios that Schumer's sign off would be essential, saying the Israeli leader "isn't going to come and speak in front of half of Congress."

The backdrop: The idea of inviting Netanyahu to address Congress was initially floated by several House Republicans during a closed-door GOP Conference meeting on Wednesday morning.

What we're hearing: Johnson's office told Axios they plan to coordinate with the Biden administration and Israeli government on the address.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional developments.

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