All five Republicans in Iowa’s congressional delegation were in the U.S. House yesterday for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech, but the only Democrat from Iowa in congress watched it on a TV in his office.
Congressman Dave Loebsack, a Democrat from Iowa City, says Israel is “an important and strategic partner.”
“Especially given that we have the same goal, which is to ensure that Iran does not achieve nuclear weapons capability,” Loebsack says. “But unfortunately Speaker Boehner injected partisan politics into the debate and, in the end, the speech was little more than a spectacle where attendance at the speech seemed to matter more than what was actually said.”
Boehner, the top Republican in the U.S. House, invited Netanyahu to speak without consulting the White House and many Democrats considered it an attempt to embarass President Obama and derail negotiations with Iran.
Loebsack was among about 60 Democrats in congress who boycotted the speech and he does not expect “political fall out” for his decision. “I am hopeful that we can move beyond this speech,” Loebsack says. “I’ve talked to folks since the speech who have particular concerns about the relationship and I think we can continue to move towards an agreement with Iran that will include strict verification to ensure that Iran does not get a nuclear weapons capability.”
During his address, Netanyahu warned the deal could spark the “countdown to a nuclear nightmare.” Obama himself shot back soon after, saying the prime minister did not offer “viable alternatives” to the ongoing negotiations with Iran. A few Republicans in Iowa’s congressional delegation issued written statements commending Netanyahu’s approach.
Congressman Steve King released a video statement, saying Netanyahu delivered a “powerful” message that the U.S. should “hold out for a…better agreement” with Iran.