About a month ago, just two days after Christmas, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) traveled to Jerusalem for a joint appearance with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, where the American lawmaker struck an interesting note.
"I'm here to tell you, Mr. Prime Minister, that the Congress will follow your lead," Graham said.
Ordinarily, America's elected lawmakers follow the American president's lead on matters of international affairs, making the senator's comment just a little jarring.
House Speaker John Boehner is inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress on February 11. The invitation comes as the Hill braces for a clash with the White House over sanctions on Iran.
Boehner told reporters that he did not consult the White House before extending the invitation, adding "I do not believe I am poking anyone in the eye."
Well, whether the Speaker believes it or not, this was quite a provocative move, which is arguably without precedent.
By delivering remarks to the U.S. Congress, Netanyahu will get a political boost at an opportune time -- the prime minister will speak on Feb. 11, with Israeli elections to follow just five weeks later. The move may give the appearance of interfering in a foreign democratic election.
More importantly, Netanyahu will not be stopping by Capitol Hill for a friendly chat. Congressional Republicans, and a few Democrats, hope to sabotage international nuclear talks with Iran by imposing new sanctions on Tehran, destroying the once-in-a-generation diplomatic opportunity. These American critics of the talks see the conservative Israeli leader as an ally towards their goal, so his Washington visit is likely to be part of the broader lobbying effort.