(JNS.org) U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is skipping Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress on March 3, with the vice president’s office saying that he will be traveling to an unspecified location abroad that day.
“We are not ready to announce details of his trip yet, and normally our office wouldn’t announce this early, but the planning process has been underway for a while,” an official in the vice president’s office told The Jerusalem Post.
American vice presidents—who also serve as president of the U.S. Senate—are normally in attendance when foreign leaders address Congress, usually sitting behind the podium along with the speaker of the House of Representatives.
Netanyahu was invited by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to address a joint session of Congress about the Iranian nuclear threat and radical Islam. The Obama administration said it was not consulted about the invitation and has argued that the speech would hurt the West’s chances to forge a deal with Iran over its nuclear program, while Netanyahu has said it is his “duty” to address Congress because a bad nuclear deal would threaten Israel’s security.
At least five members of Congress have said they will also skip the speech: U.S. Reps. John Lewis (D-GA) G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Jim McDermott (D-WA), and Jim McGovern (D-MA).