John Lewis plans to skip Netanyahu speech to Congress

The Associated Press has the news:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two prominent House Democrats said Thursday they will skip Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to Congress next month, saying they disapprove of House Speaker John Boehner's decision to invite the Israeli leader without consulting the White House.

Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, a hero of the civil rights movement, and Rep. G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina, chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said they won't attend Netanyahu's March 3 speech.

"I think it's an affront to the president and the State Department what the speaker did," by not consulting the White House, Lewis said in an interview.

Butterfield said he was "very disappointed that the speaker would cause such a ruckus" among members of Congress. He called the speaker's actions "unprecedented."

Butterfield also criticized Netanyahu, saying that by accepting Boehner's invitation without talking to President Barack Obama, the prime minister had "politicized" his visit to the United States.

Netanyahu's speech is expected to focus largely on Iran — and its nuclear program — amid delicate negotiations involving the United States, other Western powers and Tehran. Netanyahu's acceptance of Boehner's invitation has infuriated the White House and many congressional Democrats.

A Lewis spokeswoman clarified that the congressman is not boycotting the speech, and his plan to skip it is not meant as any kind of statement about Netanyahu.

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