Democrat Pat Leahy, Most Senior Senator, To Skip Netanyahu Speech to Congress

Leahy calls the speech a 'stunt' by Speaker of the House John Boehner

Yeah, that's it.

The partisan divide over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s March address to Congress deepened further on Tuesday, with the Senate’s most-senior lawmaker announcing that he will not attend the speech.

In a highly critical statement on Tuesday morning, Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont called the speech arranged by House Speaker John Boehner “a tawdry and highhanded stunt that has embarrassed not only Israel but the Congress itself.”

Leahy joins Vermont’s other senator, independent Bernie Sanders, in skipping the speech, as well as a number of House Democrats who have been critical of the address, which comes as President Barack Obama tries to reach a nuclear deal with Iran — an effort opposed by Netanyahu.

The seven-term Leahy said that by unilaterally scheduling the speech without the White House’s input, House Republican leaders “demolished the potential constructive value of this joint meeting.” Leahy’s comments carry extra weight because until the GOP took the Senate in January, Leahy was in the presidential line of succession as Senate president pro tempore.