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US lawmaker not happy with rejection of request have Ruto address joint sitting of Congress

The lawmaker who is a Ranking Member of the Ways and Means Committee also called for equal treatment

File image of President William Ruto

A decision by the House Speaker Mike Johnson to reject a request to have President William Ruto address a joint session of Congress has attracted mixed reactions with United States lawmaker Richard Neal criticizing the decision.

The lawmaker who is a Ranking Member of the Ways and Means Committee stated that President Ruto deserves recognition similar to other leaders who have had the honour of addressing a joint session of Congress.

He noted that these include Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, President Isaac Herzog, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and President Yoon Suk Yeol.

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Mr. Neal noted that Ruto’s upcoming state visit should not be any different and urged the Congress to prioritize the strengthening of ties with Kenya.

"I see no reason why President William Ruto's upcoming state visit should be any different," Mr Neal stated.

He challenged the Congress to emulate the Biden Administration that will honour President William Ruto by hosting a state dinner.

"Even in times of great tragedy and global conflict, the Congress has historically shown a depth of focus," The lawmaker explained.

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Neal reiterated the importance of Kenya as a strategic partner to the U.S, recounting discussions he had with former President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Among them were great economic opportunities for collaboration between the two nations.

"I had the privilege of hosting former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, where we spoke about the great opportunities to strengthen relations between our two economies present, and since then, Kenya has only continued to demonstrate its commitment to reaffirming our 60-year partnership," added Neal.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Member Gregory Meeks and Committee Chairman Michael McCaul wrote to the United States Speaker of the House of Representatives, formally making the request to have President Ruto address a joint session of Congress.

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The request was however rejected with The Speaker’s Office citing scheduling restraints.

"Unfortunately, due to scheduling restraints, we could not accommodate a request for remarks before a Joint Session,” reads part of a statement by Speaker Johnson's deputy chief of staff Raj Shah.

According to Congressional Research Service, “a joint meeting of Congress is generally held when a prominent individual, often a foreign leader, is invited to address the House and Senate simultaneously”.

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When a foreign leader formally visits the United States, he or she is sometimes invited to address Congress. The decision to invite a foreign leader to address Congress has historically been made by the congressional leadership, often in consultation and conjunction with the executive branch.

Not all foreign leaders who visit the United States are invited to address Congress.

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