Overflow crowd to attend Bibi joint session speech

The large number of Democratic lawmakers boycotting the speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before a joint session of Congress tomorrow doesn't mean the Israeli prime minister will be speaking before a half empty chamber.

Speaker of the House John Boehner reports that the demand for tickets to the speech has exceeded anything his office has seen since he was elected speaker in 2010. It will be standing room only in the House chamber and several satellite locations where the speech can be viewed in the Capitol building have been set up to handle the crush.

Roll Call:

But just because certain members won’t be on the House floor, doesn’t mean they won’t be paying attention to Netanyahu’s remarks.

It also won’t preclude those lawmakers from weighing in publicly afterwards.

Following Netanyahu’s address on Tuesday, Rep. John Yarmuth, a Kentucky Democrat who is part of the tiny Jewish population in his district and doesn’t plan to attend the speech, will headline a news conference to give fellow disgruntled Democrats an opportunity to share their thoughts.

The list of participants was still in flux on Feb. 27, but it could include a mix of members who skipped the event and those who were, albeit reluctantly, present.

The growing list of Democrats skipping the event sparked a mad rush last week to claim unwanted tickets for guests and constituents.

A source in the office of Speaker John A. Boehner told CQ Roll Call the demand for tickets to Netanyahu’s address has reached the highest volume for any joint address since the Ohio Republican took control of the chamber in 2010.

Boehner’s office has been inundated with 10 times the number of requests for tickets than there are seats in the viewing galleries that hover above the House floor. The demand is so high that both the House and Senate have set up overflow rooms on Capitol Hill, which will also require passes for entry, for people to watch the event.

Both sides of the aisle were busy last week preparing for the pageantry of the day’s events. The lawmakers set to escort Netanyahu to the House floor to give his address are Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, along with additional members each of those leaders appoints.

A special reception for Netanyahu following his remarks will include the members of the escort committee, and each leadership office will be allowed to invite two additional guests.

Boehner has invited Elie Wiesel — a Noble Peace Prize winner, Congressional Gold Medal recipient, Holocaust survivor and author — as his guest. As a gift to Netanyahu, Boehner plans to present him a bust of Winston Churchill; the Israeli prime minister and Churchill are the only two heads of state who have addressed joint sessions of Congress three times.

After a war of words last week between the White House and the prime minister's office, both sides appear to be making a solid effort to ramp down the rhetoric in advance of the speech. Secretary of State John Kerry now says that Netanyahu is "welcome" to speak in the US and the Israelis are downplaying any friction they've had with the White House.

Expect Netanyahu to take pains to praise President Obama - probably calling him a steadfast friend of Israel despite the record.The relationship between Israel and the US is too important to have it affected by personality clashes and name calling. Differences will be papered over and the appearance of amity will be maintained.

This is a tremendous personal and political gamble by Netanyahu. He is putting it all on the line by addressing Congress and warning them of the Iranian threat. It's why so many of us in America admire him. Despite the controversy, despite the threat to his re-election, Netanyahu is coming to America to tell his ally they are making a grave error by trusting Iran on a nuclear deal.

Does anyone doubt his success?

The large number of Democratic lawmakers boycotting the speech by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before a joint session of Congress tomorrow doesn't mean the Israeli prime minister will be speaking before a half empty chamber.

Speaker of the House John Boehner reports that the demand for tickets to the speech has exceeded anything his office has seen since he was elected speaker in 2010. It will be standing room only in the House chamber and several satellite locations where the speech can be viewed in the Capitol building have been set up to handle the crush.

Roll Call:

But just because certain members won’t be on the House floor, doesn’t mean they won’t be paying attention to Netanyahu’s remarks.

It also won’t preclude those lawmakers from weighing in publicly afterwards.

Following Netanyahu’s address on Tuesday, Rep. John Yarmuth, a Kentucky Democrat who is part of the tiny Jewish population in his district and doesn’t plan to attend the speech, will headline a news conference to give fellow disgruntled Democrats an opportunity to share their thoughts.

The list of participants was still in flux on Feb. 27, but it could include a mix of members who skipped the event and those who were, albeit reluctantly, present.

The growing list of Democrats skipping the event sparked a mad rush last week to claim unwanted tickets for guests and constituents.

A source in the office of Speaker John A. Boehner told CQ Roll Call the demand for tickets to Netanyahu’s address has reached the highest volume for any joint address since the Ohio Republican took control of the chamber in 2010.

Boehner’s office has been inundated with 10 times the number of requests for tickets than there are seats in the viewing galleries that hover above the House floor. The demand is so high that both the House and Senate have set up overflow rooms on Capitol Hill, which will also require passes for entry, for people to watch the event.

Both sides of the aisle were busy last week preparing for the pageantry of the day’s events. The lawmakers set to escort Netanyahu to the House floor to give his address are Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, along with additional members each of those leaders appoints.

A special reception for Netanyahu following his remarks will include the members of the escort committee, and each leadership office will be allowed to invite two additional guests.

Boehner has invited Elie Wiesel — a Noble Peace Prize winner, Congressional Gold Medal recipient, Holocaust survivor and author — as his guest. As a gift to Netanyahu, Boehner plans to present him a bust of Winston Churchill; the Israeli prime minister and Churchill are the only two heads of state who have addressed joint sessions of Congress three times.

After a war of words last week between the White House and the prime minister's office, both sides appear to be making a solid effort to ramp down the rhetoric in advance of the speech. Secretary of State John Kerry now says that Netanyahu is "welcome" to speak in the US and the Israelis are downplaying any friction they've had with the White House.

Expect Netanyahu to take pains to praise President Obama - probably calling him a steadfast friend of Israel despite the record.The relationship between Israel and the US is too important to have it affected by personality clashes and name calling. Differences will be papered over and the appearance of amity will be maintained.

This is a tremendous personal and political gamble by Netanyahu. He is putting it all on the line by addressing Congress and warning them of the Iranian threat. It's why so many of us in America admire him. Despite the controversy, despite the threat to his re-election, Netanyahu is coming to America to tell his ally they are making a grave error by trusting Iran on a nuclear deal.

Does anyone doubt his success?