As I mentioned in my previous post, House Speaker John Boehner recently invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress on the subject of Iran’s nuclear program, and he did this without consulting the White House. Over the last few days, a number of commentators have argued that the invitation is unconstitutional because it interferes with the President’s authority over diplomatic relations. This morning I posted a response over at the blog Just Security; it’s available here.
Today there’s some interesting news from the realm of foreign relations law: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will give an address to Congress next month on the topic of Iran’s nuclear program, presumably to encourage legislators to support a hardline stance and perhaps to undermine the President’s ongoing efforts to achieve a diplomatic solution. To me, the noteworthy part is not so much the address itself, but rather the process by which it was arranged: the White House had no role. In fact, the Administration didn’t even know about it until today. John Boehner says that he invited Netanyahu without consulting officials from the executive branch because “Congress can make [such a] decision on its own.” The President’s Press Secretary responded that it was a breach of protocol for Netanyahu to plan a visit without first contacting the White House.
A couple of quick points. First, addresses of this type have a long historical pedigree. Consider these facts from the Office of the Historian of the House of Representatives, which has a fun website on the subject: Continue reading “Some Historical Perspective on Netanyahu’s Address to Congress”