House Majority Whip Scalise Speaks at AIPAC, Holds Meeting with PM Netanyahu
WASHINGTON, D.C.—House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) spoke at AIPAC's U.S.-Israel Policy Conference to express his strong support for the close relationship between the two countries and the House's work to continue building on this relationship. Following the conference, he joined fellow House Leadership members in a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to further discuss ways the U.S. and Israel can continue to support each other.
“It truly is an honor to be here with you and I want to welcome you to Washington, from all over the country. I know in just a few hours, thousands of you will be making your way to the Hill to go on tour and meet with hundreds of Members of Congress. From our Members of Congress, from our Senators, I know I look forward to the meetings I’m going to be having later today with my friends from Louisiana and it's so important, this work that you're doing. Not only are you exercising your Constitutional right, but you're also ensuring that the U.S.-Israel relationship remains a strong and bipartisan priority in Congress. it's always been that way.
"It continues to be that way. Your continued activism and involvement here today to strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship truly does make a difference. As the whip, I know how important it is that you're meeting with every Member of Congress with a unified message. That's what it takes for us to put the votes together, to pass legislation and especially the legislation we work on together that is so incredibly bipartisan. Your message resonates with us on Capitol Hill and it will be heard all around the country and the world. Your leadership has helped advance the bipartisan achievements that strengthen our alliance with Israel. These efforts have shown American leadership at home and on the international stage to stand by Israel and crack down on those seeking to delegitimize or destroy Israel.
"Unfortunately, Israel remains on the front line to terror. Challenge to Israel’s sovereignty cannot be tolerated and we must continue to stand together in support of Israel’s right to defend herself from all threats. In Congress, we're going to do our part. We're going to provide the crucial security assistance through fully funding the $3.1 billion in the Memorandum of Understanding and the $705 million for Israeli missile defense, a vital system that protects Israel. While we provide the critical security and assistance, we cannot overlook the economic and political fights, whether on campuses or at the United Nations. I’m glad we have such strong leadership at the U.N. with our ambassador, Nikki Haley, and what she's doing to stand up to the BDS movement and to stand by Israel and continue to work to counter the growing challenges that we face around the world. We must also continue to use all of our tools available to cut off Iran’s support for its proxies and stop their ballistic missile program.
"In the House, we passed legislation to impose sanctions to cut off Hezbollah’s resources and on Iran for its ballistic missile program. These are key steps to counter Iran’s destructive actions that undermine regional peace and security. President Trump also outlined a comprehensive strategy to curtail Iran’s dangerous nuclear ambitions and I fully support his administration's work to fix this flawed and broken nuclear deal so we can end Iran’s nuclear program once and for all.
"President Trump has also followed through on what most politicians have simply talked about for years, by fulfilling his promise to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. Congress has long maintained that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and I applaud President Trump for once again demonstrating strong leadership on the world stage in support of our strongest ally in the Middle East. I’ve been to Israel a number of times and when you go to Jerusalem and you walk the streets, as a Catholic, I feel so warm and embraced by the people of Jerusalem to be able to share and experience such an important part of my faith in a Jewish state, and that needs to continue.
"I’m glad that when it comes to Israel and maintaining our strong alliance that we have bipartisan support in Congress for the work that we do. Much of our united front is a result of your hard work and constant advocacy to make sure that not only do you deliver the message, but you work with both sides of the aisle so that when we bring legislation to the floor it truly is bipartisan. That sends an important message to the rest of the world that America is united. Maybe there are areas where we're divided, but when it comes to our strong support for Israel, we come together as a united Congress, Republican and Democrat, to express our support for the policies that are so important.
"While sometimes we face these challenges that seem worse than they were before, I know that our faith in America's greatness and steadfast commitment to stand by Israel will endure and prevail over the threats that we may face. Now, I want to share a personal story. As many of you know, on June 14th I was shot last year and it was a horrific day in many ways, but it was also a day, and then a period of time, where I saw the greatness of people all around the country. So many of you that prayed for me, I want to personally thank all of you for the prayers. They truly lifted me up through incredibly tough times. Thank you for those prayers and the heartfelt wishes.
"I should probably just leave when I get a standing ovation, but I want to share something else with you, a personal story about the great leader of Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who is going to be addressing you later today. I’ve met Prime Minister Netanyahu many times. We're going to meet later today when the Prime Minister meets with our Congressional leadership, Republican and Democrat. I've also met him a number of times, every time I go to Jerusalem. It's amazing when you go to Israel and you go as a Congressional delegation with Members of Congress. It might be three Members of Congress, it might be 25 Members of Congress. When Eric Cantor first brought me when I was a freshman Member of Congress, just nine years ago, the Prime Minister always makes it a priority to sit down with Members of Congress of both parties and share the issues and the experiences. You know, when I got to go out and see the Iron Dome personally, it truly does make a difference.
"After I was shot, on the day I was shot, we get a call from Prime Minister Netanyahu. Now, I was out of it for three days. I didn't come to after I had surgeries, fighting for my life, infections and finally, by day three, I woke up. My wife was there, my family was there, they started sharing some of the stories of the people that were praying all around the world and one of the things that stood out, they said ‘Prime Minister Netanyahu called for you.’ I said, ‘Prime Minister Netanyahu called for me?’ I know he's busy. There are so many threats and problems that he's dealing with. They said, ‘He wants you to call him when you're able to.’ So, finally, about another day went by and the fog had kind of lifted and I said, ‘Okay, I'd love to talk to him.’ So we arranged the call and we spent just a wonderful conversation on the phone and he shared with me some of his personal experiences. You all know his brother died in a shooting in service to the military, but he also shared some other personal stories with me and it was just such a warm expression of the kind of person he is. The fact that he called told me a number of things about him, but it also said something about our relationship. Why would he call a Member of the United States Congress who had been shot when he's the Prime Minister of Israel? You know why? Because our countries love each other. Our countries care about each other.
"This is a relationship that's built on this kind of love and respect for what we do. What you do is so important to maintain it. Let's continue to do this great work, to stand up for the Jewish state of Israel. Thank you for your advocacy. Have a great day on the Hill."