GOP lawmakers are resisting an Obama administration call to lift restrictions on Libyans who want to pursue nuclear studies in the United States, Defense News reports.
President Obama has pushed to eliminate the rules after the 2011 ouster of dictator Muammar Qadhafi. Covered by them are Libyan visa applicants, plus persons acting on behalf of a Libyan entity, who seek to pursue "nuclear-related studies or training" in the United States.
Certain House of Representatives lawmakers voiced opposition on Thursday to any loosening of the rules. They contended that travel restrictions should remain in place prior to the death or imprisonment of individuals responsible for the 2012 attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi.
"We couldn't even send our FBI into eastern Libya [after the 2012 strike] because it was so dangerous," House Oversight and Government Reform National Security subcommittee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said at a hearing on the matter.
"Yet, we want to give those same people visas to come into the United States to study nuclear [subjects]?" he asked at the hearing, convened jointly by his panel and the House Judiciary Committee’s Information and Border Security subcommittee.
Administration officials, though, said federal authorities would continue to screen for signs that Libyan atomic students may join al-Qaida or plot strikes inside the United States.
Some Democratic hearing participants voiced support for Obama's initiative to lift the travel restrictions.
Representative John Tierney (D-Mass.) said doing so "seems reasonable ... given [the] fall of Qadhafi."