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Paul Ryan: Invitation to Israeli prime minister ‘absolutely’ appropriate

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Sunday defended the House GOP’s decision to invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress without consulting the White House. 

“Do I think it’s wholly appropriate for the Speaker of the House of a separate but equal branch of government is free to invite a foreign leader to address us? Absolutely,” Ryan said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

The White House panned Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) for the invitation and said that President Obama will not meet with Netanyahu, citing the upcoming Israeli election.  White House press secretary Josh Earnest called the invitation a “departure from protocol” days after the announcement.

But Ryan pushed back against an assertion by “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd that the visit could antagonize relations.

“I don’t know if I would say it’s antagonizing. I think we would like to hear from the leader of Israel on his thoughts on Iran,” Ryan said.

“The president’s policies with Iran have bipartisan concern. A huge bipartisan majority in both the House and the Senate are very worried about the handling of these negotiations.”

Negotiators face a June 30 deadline to strike a nuclear deal with Iran, but a number of lawmakers have expressed concern that the U.S. will concede too much. Sens. Robert Menendez (R-N.J.) and Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) have championed a bill to levy sanctions on Tehran if a deal is not reached. While Menendez recently said that he wouldn’t support a vote until March, the Senate Banking Committee passed the bill last Thursday. 

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