Updated 1:53 p.m. | Speaker John A. Boehner will lead a House delegation to Israel later this month to meet with newly re-elected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Boehner spokesman Kevin Smith confirmed Friday morning that Boehner, who invited Netanyahu to address a joint meeting of Congress on March 3, would make the trip. “The Speaker will visit Israel during the next district work period. He looks forward to visiting the country, discussing our shared priorities for peace and security in the region, and further strengthening the bond between the United States and Israel.”
Israeli news sites reported Boehner will arrive March 31 with a group of Republican lawmakers. Sources on Capitol Hill told CQ Roll Call the visit was planned not only before the Israeli election, but long before the prime minister’s speech to Congress.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest shrugged off the trip. "Well, it's certainly not uncommon for members of Congress in both parties to travel to Israel. I'm not aware of all the details of the trip. But it's not — it doesn't come as a surprise to anybody here," he said.
Boehner, R-Ohio, has been to Israel a number of times, most recently in 2008.
Related: Netanyahu Speech Lives Up to Controversial Expectations (Video) The 114th: CQ Roll Call's Guide to the New Congress Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call in your inbox or on your iPhone.