A viral message on social media, claiming that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is only the second leader in history to address a joint session of the US Congress after Winston Churchill, is false.
Records with the US Congress show that Benjamin Netanyahu has addressed its joint session thrice, while Nelson Mandela of South Africa and wartime Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Winston Churchill, have addressed it twice. Ukraine's incumbent president Volodymyr Zelenskyy is noted to have addressed it once, though the US Congress notes that he has had an informal meeting with it.
A joint session of US Congress is when both Houses of US Congress - the House of Representative and the Senate - sit together for a specific purpose. The most common reasons for this are: to certify the votes of a presidential election, for a State of the Union Address by the US President, for a presidential inauguration and for addresses by foreign leaders.
This claim is coming at a time when Modi has become the first Prime Minister of India to address a joint session of the US Congress twice. His first address came on June 8, 2016.
The other Prime Ministers of India who have addressed a joint session of US Congress are:
- Rajiv Gandhi on January 13, 1985
- PV Narsimha Rao on May 18, 1994
- Atal Bihari Vajpayee on September 14, 2000
- Manmohan Singh on July 19, 2005
BOOM received this claim on its WhatsApp tipline (7700906588).
The claim can be seen below.
"This is called a real royal invitation for a respected Diplomat.... After Winston Churchill, Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India is the only Second World leader who is given this honour for second time"
This message accompanies the formal invitation extended by the bipartisan leadership of the US Congress to Modi to address it. The letter has been signed by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jefferies, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnel.
This invitation is genuine and can be seen below. It can also be found through the Speaker's office here.
It is also viral on social media.
Information available through the History, Art and Archives section of the US House of Representatives shows that Modi is not the only world leader since Churchill to have address a joint session of Congress twice.
These records show several other leaders have addressed it twice, with Benjamin Netanyahu having addressed it thrice.
As the Prime Minister of Israel, Netanyahu addressed a joint session of the US Congress thrice:
- On July 10, 1996, during his first tenure as prime minister
- On May 24, 2011
- On March 3, 2015
Nelson Mandela addressed the joint session twice in different capacities:
- June 26, 1990, as the Deputy President of the African National Congress
- On October 6, 1994 as the President of South Africa
As the claim suggests, Winston Churchill addressed US Congress twice as the British Prime Minister
- May 19, 1943 during the Second World War
- January 17, 1952
On December 26, 1941, he also engaged in an informal meeting of US Congress
Volodymyr Zelensky has two mentions, though not both of them are addresses to a joint session of US Congress. He has visited the United States twice after the start of the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.
- On March 16, 2022, he addressed an informal meeting of US Congress
- On December 21, 2022, he addressed a joint session of US Congress in his first trip abroad since the start of the war
This information is available with the US Congress here.