Rep. Martha McSally (R.-Ariz.) will be one of more than 40 U.S. lawmakers traveling to Israel next month to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prior to a Congressional vote on the nuclear deal with Iran. Congress has until Sept. 17 to vote on the agreement the United States and five other countries (known as the P5+1) reached with Iran July 14.
The deal aims to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions on Iran.
House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) will take part in the Democratic trip, which starts Monday. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will be the highest-ranking member on the weeklong GOP trip, which begins Aug. 8.
“We’ll meet with Mr. Netanyahu, [and] I’m sure he will repeat his very deep concerns and the dangers he believes that the deal presents to Israel,” Hoyer, who is undecided on the deal, told the Hill. “We will speak to people in Israel who do not share his view.”
Such Congressional trips, geared toward freshman lawmakers like McSally, are held every two years, organized and funded by the American Israel Education Foundation, an educational nonprofit linked to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
“I’ve had six deployments to the Middle East and Afghanistan in my time in uniform, and I’ve been over to Israel as a tourist,” McSally, a retired Air Force colonel and the first U.S. female combat pilot, told the Hill. “But it’s a critical time for us to be going over there with my colleagues … to hear from our close ally.”
McSally met briefly with Netanyahu after he addressed a joint session of Congress on March 3.
“I was honored to be present for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech, shake his hand, and hear his unfiltered perspective at such a critical time. He is exactly right when he says one of the greatest dangers facing our world is the marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons, and the deal being worked on by the Administration would quicken that marriage. The deal would be a disaster for regional and global stability, paving the way for a nuclear Iran-the world’s leading sponsor of state terror. This result would not only pose an existential threat to our close ally Israel, but a threat to America and our interests around the world. We must do everything in our power as the leader of the free world to not just contain Iran’s destructive ambitions, but stop them and ensure the defense of Israel,” McSally said in a statement released March 3.
President Obama has threatened a veto if the GOP-led Congress votes to reject the agreement. Opponents of the deal would have to muster two-thirds majorities in both the House and Senate to override a veto.
Along with Netanyahu, the lawmakers will also meet with other high-ranking officials, as well as U.S. ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro.
Other freshman members who confirmed they are attending include Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) and Mimi Walters (R-Calif.).
Curbelo told the Hill the trips were planned well in advance and coincidentally lined up with the 60-day window on the Iran nuclear agreement.