[Ed. – Latest count is 43 total Democrats skipping the speech. Their seats will be filled.]
Plenty of outsiders — from lobbyists to constituents — are eager to see Netanyahu speak; an aide for Speaker John A. Boehner told CQ Roll Call that at least 350 requests are being fielded by the Ohio Republican’s office.
“I don’t expect many empty seats on the floor,” the aide said. “This is a big draw.”
But the fact that many Jewish, progressive and African-American Democrats are protesting the speech has set off something of a frenzy for extra tickets (each member gets at least one to give to a constituent or other guest).
A House Democratic aide said the lawmaker she works for has fielded multiple calls from colleagues asking whether the member is attending and, if not, if that ticket is available. …
Boehner, who orchestrated the invitation to Netanyahu along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., dismissed criticism at a news conference Thursday that the speech would undercut negotiations to disarm Iran and provide Netanyahu with a bully pulpit at a sensitive time.
“I’m glad most of my colleagues, Democrats and Republicans, will be there to hear what he has to say,” Boehner said.