Not so far apart.

Photographer: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Netanyahu Invite Is Good for Congress

Jonathan Bernstein is a Bloomberg View columnist. He taught political science at the University of Texas at San Antonio and DePauw University and wrote A Plain Blog About Politics.
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Today’s tempest is that House Speaker John Boehner invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel to address a joint session of Congress next month, and Netanyahu accepted, with the White House and State Department left out of the loop.

On the process here, I’ll take Boehner’s side. Congress is a co-equal branch of government, and members of the House are entitled to make their own choices on foreign policy. Maybe Netanyahu should have notified the White House he was coming to town, but that isn't Boehner’s concern.

After all, Boehner’s action is far more symbolic than it is substantive, unlike Speaker Jim Wright’s efforts to initiate House-based foreign policy in Nicaragua back in the 1980s. But I was OK with that, too.

A more assertive Congress in foreign affairs and national security would be a welcome change. Some members have been whining recently that the administration won’t send them a draft authorization for months-old military action against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. That’s ridiculous: Congress is perfectly capable of writing its own authorization, and should do so immediately. If the president doesn’t like it, then it will be on him to negotiate with Congress. You can't blame President Barack Obama for choosing to ignore a Congress that won’t take its responsibilities seriously.

The Netanyahu speech sounds more like a political stunt than participation on real policy. But if it's a precedent that will encourage Congress to act on more substantive matters, then that's good news.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

To contact the author on this story:
Jonathan Bernstein at jbernstein62@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor on this story:
Katy Roberts at kroberts29@bloomberg.net