Senator Martin Heinrich will not attend an address to Congress by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his office told New Mexico Political Report on Friday afternoon.
Heinrich said he will watch the speech about Iran in his office but that he will not attend the speech because he views it as Netanyahu “using the floor of the United States Congress as a stage for his election campaign.”
Here is the full statement from Heinrich provided to New Mexico Political Report:
I am always happy to listen to what Prime Minister Netanyahu has to say. I intend to watch his speech about Iran from my office, but I have strong objections to using the floor of the United States Congress as a stage for his election campaign–or anyone’s for that matter. The U.S.-Israeli alliance is too important to be politically exploited just days before Israeli voters go to the polls.
Many view the speech as a way to bolster Netanyahu’s upcoming reelection bid.
Earlier this month, New Mexico Political Report reached out to the offices of each member of New Mexico’s congressional delegation to see if they planned on attending the speech.
The offices of Sen. Tom Udall and Reps. Ben Ray Lujan and Steve Pearce each said they would attend. Heinrich said he would not attend and the office of Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham did not provide an answer.
At that time, a number of Democrats had said they would not attend, most citing the way in which Netanyahu was invited to make the speech.
Speaker of the House John Boehner invited Netanyahu to speak to Congress without first consulting the White House. This is a breach in normal protocol for inviting a foreign leader to address Congress.
In recent days, more Democrats have said they would not attend.
Correction: This post was updated to clarify Heinrich views the speech as Netanyahu bolstering his bid for reelection as Israeli Prime Minister.