White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest today indicated it was uncertain whether Vice President Biden would attend next month’s speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Congress, saying, in effect, that it would depend on whether Biden can work it into his schedule.
“The vice president’s schedule for that week has not yet been set,” Earnest said near the beginning of the briefing. But Earnest later seemed to contradict himself, noting that other factors, such as whether Biden’s attendance could be perceived as affecting the upcoming Israeli election, will come into play.
The White House claims concern about affecting the election, which occurs two weeks after Netanyahu’s March 3, speech, is the reason why President Obama refuses to meet with Netanyahu while he is in the country.
Nevertheless, Earnest seemed to indicate Biden’s appearance was likely – though he didn’t specifically say so – noting that it is Biden’s “ceremonial role” as “president of the Senate” to attend speeches to Congress, and that he had only missed one, when he was out of the country.
But Earnest’s response seemed an attempt by the White House to mutedly express what is said to be its extraordinary anger at what Earnest said was a “breach of protocol” in which the Congress circumvented the White House and invited an foreign leader to address it, and the foreign leader accepted.
Earnest dodged a question about whether President Obama wants Biden to go, saying it was dependent on Biden’s schedule. And he refused to counsel lawmakers to attend, saying, “Individual members of Congress ought to decide for themselves” whether to go to the speech.
An article in Politico today indicated that Biden and many Democrats might not attend the speech.
“one of the factors” whether it would influence