Netanyahu to address Congress, House Speaker Mike Johnson says

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., announced Thursday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address a joint session of Congress.

It is unclear when the address will take place. Johnson told reporters Wednesday that he was working with Netanyahu on a date and would be sending the formal invitation this week.

“Tonight, I’m happy to announce something else to you: that we will soon be hosting Prime Minister Netanyahu at the Capitol for a joint session of Congress,” Johnson said in a speech marking Israel’s independence, hosted by the Israeli Embassy.

“This will be a timely and, I think, a very strong show of support to the Israeli government in their time of greatest need,” he added.

Johnson’s office did not immediately respond to a request for details on the timing. The Israeli Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the invitation.

Johnson had said he would invite Netanyahu to the House regardless of whether Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., agreed to a joint invitation. Thursday, however, was the first time the plans were formally announced.

Schumer’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday evening.

Johnson made the announcement in his keynote address for the Israeli Embassy event, which took place at the National Building Museum. Several other lawmakers attended the program, and House Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar of California also spoke.

Johnson said Tuesday that he had given Schumer a deadline to sign a joint letter inviting Netanyahu to a joint session of Congress.

“My office told Senator Schumer’s office yesterday that he needed to sign the joint letter and if not, we were going to proceed and invite Netanyahu just to the House, and I’ll send individual invitations to senators,” Johnson said Tuesday.

In March, Schumer declined Netanyahu’s request to address Senate Democrats. Earlier in March, Schumer delivered a fiery speech blasting Netanyahu, saying he had “lost his way” and calling for new elections in Israel.

President Joe Biden later praised Schumer’s speech, saying “expressed a serious concern, shared not only by him but by many Americans.”

In recent months, Biden has increasingly sharpened his criticism of Israel’s handling of the war. The White House called the humanitarian situation in Gaza “unacceptable.” Biden has also said that what Netanyahu is “doing is a mistake,” referring to his handling of the war.

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