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Hill leaders discussing details of expected Netanyahu address

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Senior leaders in both parties are working to finalize an invitation for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress — but it may not happen as soon as Speaker Mike Johnson would prefer.

“The four leaders are working it out,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told POLITICO on Wednesday, referring to himself, Johnson, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

Schumer’s office said earlier this month that the New York Democrat, who sparked GOP criticism by calling for new elections in Israel and directly criticizing Netanyahu in March, would sign onto a bicameral invitation for the prime minister that Johnson is spearheading. But there’s been little public movement since then.

Johnson, speaking to reporters on Wednesday, said that he hadn’t spoken with Schumer directly about the invitation but that their aides are in touch. He also warned that time to issue the request was running short.

“It seems as though he wants to sign on. So I welcome that,” Johnson said of Schumer, adding that he expects the invitation to get signed “today or as quickly as possible, because we have to get the letter sent out.”

A person with direct knowledge of the discussions told POLITICO on Wednesday that congressional leadership is still hashing out logistics for the address. A spokesperson for Jeffries didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The negotiations over inviting Netanyahu come as congressional Democrats, particularly on the left, and the Biden administration remain critical of Israel’s handling of its war in Gaza, including the growing toll of civilian deaths. Progressives on and off the Hill have publicly urged Biden to do more to push back against Israel.

But Schumer reiterated during a press conference on Tuesday that he supports inviting Netanyahu despite any current disagreements with the prime minister’s conservative government.

“As I’ve always said, our relationship with Israel is ironclad and transcends any one prime minister or president,” he said.

Daniella Diaz and Nicholas Wu contributed.