Democratic leaders in the United States Senate said on Thursday they weren’t consulted regarding the invitation of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to speak before Congress.
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said that Republican congressional leaders did not consult him on inviting Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress, but said he would welcome the speech.
"I wasn't consulted," Reid told reporters in his first public appearance since suffering an eye injury in an exercise accident early this month, according to Reuters.
"I have a good relationship with Netanyahu," Reid said. "He called me as a matter of fact about my injury, which I appreciated. But you know, he's a leader of a country, he's going to come give a speech to a joint session of Congress. We'll listen to what he has to say."
Nancy Pelosi, the leader of the House Democrats, who also said that Republican Speaker John Boehner’s invitation for Netanyahu was “inappropriate”, blasted Boehner for failing to consult with Democrats.
“It's out of the ordinary that the Speaker would decide that he would be inviting people to a joint session without any bipartisan consultation,” she was quoted by The Hill as having said.
Pelosi said that, in her tenure as minority leader and Speaker, she oversaw congressional invitations to numerous heads of state, but never before the top four congressional leaders were apprised.
“It was clear, always, that if you … had a suggestion about a head of state [visiting] that it was something that had to be passed around the four top leaders,” she said.
"It's hubris to say 'I rule, I'll decide,' without any sensitivity" to the upcoming Israeli elections, charged Pelosi.
The Politico website revealed on Wednesday that the invitation to Netanyahu to address the United States Congress was extended by Boehner without consulting the White House or the State Department. Instead, Boehner’s and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s staff coordinated with Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the United States.
The White House gave an icy response on Wednesday to news that Netanyahu was invited to address Congress, saying it was a departure from diplomatic protocol.
On Thursday, the White House made clear that neither President Barack Obama nor Secretary of State John Kerry would meet Netanyahu while he is in Washington, explaining that American policy is not to meet foreign leaders on dates that are close to national elections in their countries.