The Shame of the Democrats

More than 50 Democratic members of Congress boycotting Netanyahu speech

• March 3, 2015 5:00 am


UPDATE 10:00 A.M.: Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D., Mo.) reversed his decision on Tuesday morning and will attend the speech, saying in a statement to the Washington Free Beacon that he feels it is his "duty to attend and listen respectfully." Rep. Charlie Rangel (D., N.Y.) also announced that he has changed his mind and will be attending the speech.

Sen. Tom Carper (D., Del.), however, has decided that he will join the boycott, taking the tally of senators skipping the speech to 9. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D., Texas) has also been added to the list of boycotters.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address a joint session of Congress on Tuesday regarding the dangers of nuclear talks with Iran, but more than 50 Democrats in Congress have decided to boycott his speech.

The number of Democratic members of Congress who announced they would be skipping the speech continued to grow as Tuesday approached, with a running count by the Hill putting the number at 56.

A majority of those boycotting Netanyahu's speech, including six of the seven senators who will not be attending, have received endorsements from radical anti-Israel group J Street, which has launched an aggressive media campaign against the speech.

J Street sent a letter to members of Congress calling for the speech to be postponed until after Israel’s elections. It also purchased a full-page newspaper ad in the New York Times.

Many of the members who are part of the speech boycott have received support from J Street.

Nearly all the senators boycotting the speech—including Tim Kaine, Brian Schatz, Al Franken, Bernie Sanders, Martin Heinrich, and Sheldon Whitehouse—have received endorsements from J Street. A large number of House members who are part of the boycott are J Street-endorsed as well.

Sen. Tom Carper (D., Del.), who announced late Monday that he would not be attending the speech, also has ties to J Street.

The Anti-Defamation League has called J Street's fight against Netanyahu’s speech "inflammatory and repugnant."

A full list of congressmen not attending the speech can be found below.

Many of the congressman skipping the address object because the White House was not consulted prior to Netanyahu’s invitation. Many have also adopted Obama’s excuse for not meeting with Netanyahu—that it is too close to Israel’s elections.

"This has unfortunately become a partisan spectacle, both because of the impending Israeli election and because it was done without consulting the administration," Sen. Al Franken (D., Minn.), one of the most recent to announce he would not attend, said in a statement. "I’d be uncomfortable being part of an event that I don’t believe should be happening."

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) took a similar tone in a Monday night statement announcing that she would also be boycotting the speech.

"It’s unfortunate that Speaker Boehner’s actions on the eve of a national election in Israel have made Tuesday’s event more political and less helpful for addressing the critical issue of nuclear nonproliferation and the safety of our most important ally in the Middle East," said Warren.

The Obama administration is not making a single administration official available to Netanyahu on his visit.

Vice President Joe Biden will skip the speech, as he planned a trip to Latin America that coincided with Netanyahu’s trip to Washington. It is only the second time he has missed an address from a foreign leader as vice president.

Netanyahu said in a speech to the American Israel Public Affair Committee on Monday that he has no intention of disrespecting Obama, and that he has a "moral obligation" to speak up against making a deal with Iran.

"As prime minister of Israel, I have a moral obligation to speak up in the face of these dangers while there's still time to avert them," said Netanyahu. "My speech is not intended to show any disrespect to President Obama or the esteemed office that he holds."

Netanyahu is not without an audience on his visit to the United States.

He addressed a crowd of 16,000 at the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Monday, and House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) says that it will be an overflow crowd on Capitol Hill for the speech on Tuesday.

"The demand for seats in the House, the demand for tickets, I've never seen anything like it," said Boehner on Sunday. "Everybody wants to be there."

Below is a complete list of those who have announced they will not be attending:


Sen. Tom Carper (D., Del.)

Sen. Al Franken (D., Minn.)

Sen. Tim Kaine (D., Va.)

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.)

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.)

Sen. Brian Schatz (D., Hawaii)

Sen. Martin Heinrich (D., N.M.)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.)

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I.)


Rep. Karen Bass (D., Calif.)

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D., Ore.)

Rep. Corrine Brown (D., Fla.)

Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D., N.C.)

Rep. Lois Capps (D., Calif.)

Rep. Andre Carson (D., Ind.)

Rep. Joaquin Castro (D., Texas)

Rep. Katherine Clark (D., Mass.)

Rep. Lacy Clay (D., Mo.)

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D., Ill.) UPDATE: Now attending

Rep. James Clyburn (D., S.C.)

Rep. Steve Cohen (D., Tenn.)

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D., N.J.)

Rep. John Conyers (D., Mich.)

Rep. Danny Davis (D., Ill.)

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D., Ore.)

Rep. Diana DeGette (D., Colo.)

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D., Texas)

Rep. Donna Edwards (D., Md.)

Rep. Keith Ellison (D., Minn.)

Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.)

Rep. Marcia Fudge (D., Ohio)

Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D., Ariz.)

Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D., Ill.)

Rep. Denny Heck (D., Wash.)

Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (D., Texas)

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D., Texas)

Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Ohio) 

Rep. Rick Larsen (D., Wash.)

Rep. Barbara Lee (D., Calif.)

Rep. John Lewis (D., Ga.)

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D., Calif.)

Rep. Betty McCollum (D., Minn.)

Rep. Jim McDermott (D., Wash.)

Reps. Jim McGovern (D., Mass.)

Rep. Jerry McNerney (D., Calif.)

Rep. Gregory Meeks (D., N.Y.)

Rep. Gwen Moore (D., Wis.)

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D., D.C.)

Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D., Texas)

Rep. Chellie Pingree (D., Maine)

Rep. David Price (D., N.C.)

Rep. Charles Rangel (D., N.Y.) UPDATE: Now attending

Rep. Cedric Richmond (D., La.)

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D., Ill.)

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D., Miss.)

Rep. Mike Thompson (D., Calif.)

Rep. John Yarmuth (D., Ky.)

Published under: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel, J Street