Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed a joint meeting of Congress on Tuesday to warn the United States that negotiating with Iran could result in a “nuclear nightmare” — but Republicans were quick to use the speech to attack President Barack Obama over unrelated topics like immigration.
Republicans in Congress had threatened to allow funding for the Department of Homeland Security to lapse unless Democrats agreed to roll back Obama’s executive order that extended deportation stays to millions of undocumented immigrants. But Congress ended up approving a funding bill for the DHS on Tuesday free of all the immigration-related concessions Republicans had demanded.
Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) spoke out against the funding bill on Tuesday, tying it to Netanyahu’s speech earlier in the day.
“This fight today is not about immigration,” he said. “This fight today is about the separation of powers. Any person who votes for this deal today is voting to cede some of our power to the Executive.”
“Mr. Speaker, today we all sat here, and I think every Republican stood up when Bibi Netanyahu talked about leadership. When he talked about what it was important for a leader to do, he said that we are being told that the only alternative to this bad deal — speaking about the deal on Iran — is war. That is just not true. The alternative to this bad deal is just a better deal. Every one of our Republicans stood up when he said that.”
“But today we are being told by our leadership that the only alternative to this bad deal is a government shutdown. That is not true. The alternative to this bad deal today is a better deal. It is to force the Senate to actually go to conference so both the House and the Senate can speak the will of the American people.”
Though Netanyahu never mentioned immigration in his speech, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) also used the Israeli prime minister to attack the DHS funding bill.
“If today we agree to just give the President all the taxpayer funds he wants so that he can implement his illegal actions, why should the American people ever trust us again?… Today we heard Mr. Netanyahu say this is the most powerful legislative organization in the world. I would say it is — except for when the Senate decides that it is not. We need to stand up, use the power of the purse, and exercise our constitutional duty to fund only legal and constitutional activities,” Massie remarked.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) cited Netanyahu’s speech as he attacked Obama’s “unconstitutional” executive orders on the House floor.
“Mr. Speaker, it is unfair to legal immigrants who did it the right way, who followed the law, who came here and want to be a part of this great country, the greatest Nation of the world, as we just heard Prime Minister Netanyahu talking about how great this country is — it is unfair to legal immigrants.”
The Israeli prime minister’s speech was also used to push for a balanced budget amendment and the Keystone XL Pipeline.
“I think it is so interesting that the Prime Minister of Israel was here earlier today. We heard Prime Minister Netanyahu lay out his concerns with regards to some things happening in the Middle East,” Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) said on the House floor. “But America’s variability, whether it is in engaging with an ally like Israel or whether it is engaging in a whole host of other conflicts that are innumerable and guaranteed across the next 25 years or so, our ability to impact those things will be driven, frankly, by these economic numbers.”
“And there is something fundamental about our civilization’s need for not just a balanced budget for balanced budget’s sake but to be able to sustain our ability to project power and maintain a way of life that we love,” Sanford added.
Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT) name dropped Netanyahu on the Senate floor as he called for the Keystone pipeline to be approved.
“Just this morning we were reminded by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu that we are living in an increasingly dangerous world,” he said Tuesday. “Our energy security isn’t just about jobs and low energy prices. It is directly tied to our national security. Whether it is ISIS, whether it is Boko Haram in Nigeria and Chad, whether it is the Russian aggression in Eastern Europe or the growing threat of a nuclear Iran, it is vitally important we move forward with more made-in-America energy because many of these regions that are filled with turmoil supply much of the world’s oil and natural gas.”