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Congress Bracing for Backlash As Guest Speaker Announced

( – The relationship between the Democratic Party and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been murky for years. Neither former President Barack Obama nor President Joe Biden have had great relationships with him, even though they staunchly supported Israel. It appears many Democratic lawmakers are considering a boycott of the PM’s upcoming speech to Congress.

On June 3, a congressional leadership aide said Netanyahu would speak before a joint session of Congress on June 13. That date has now been ruled out because it falls on Shavuot, a Jewish holiday. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) said congressional leaders are still trying to find a day that works.

Meanwhile, a large chunk of the Democratic Party reportedly intends to boycott the speech. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), the head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told Axios that the boycott “will be large” and a lot of her Democratic colleagues “are extremely upset [the prime minister] is coming” to the US.

According to reports, as many as 100 Democrats could skip the prime minister’s speech if the conflict in Gaza is still going on. There are also rumors that some members of the Democratic Party could cause a ruckus in the chamber while the speech is taking place. An unnamed senior House Democrat said everything is “all being discussed” and “a number [of Democrats] are going and disrupting” the speech.

Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI) said he wants to “have a conversation about it.” He said that if the Democratic Party boycotts, their seats will be filled by smiling staffers for the members who didn’t skip the speech, primarily Republicans.”

Other Democrats feel it’s their obligation to attend the speech even if they aren’t comfortable with Netanyahu’s policies and behavior.

Netanyahu was invited to speak to lawmakers by the four Democratic and Republican congressional leaders. The last time he spoke to Congress was in 2015. Several Democrats boycotted that speech as well.

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