On Thursday, the House will take up a Senate-passed measure that essentially seeks to bar Iran’s proposed ambassador to the United Nations from entering the United States.
The legislation would ban entry of “known terrorists” into the United States in the capacity of U.N. ambassadors. Iran has nominated Hamid Aboutalebi to serve as its ambassador to the United Nations in New York, a pick that raised alarms in Washington.
Lawmakers have accused Aboutalebi of having played a role in the 1979 Iran hostage crisis. Aboutalebi, for his part, has denied that he was directly involved in the taking of American hostages, and said he had a limited role in serving as a translator.
The House will take up Republican Sen. Ted Cruz’s bill, which passed the Senate on Monday via voice vote, meaning it was a noncontroversial piece of legislation that no lawmaker chose to oppose. The House will also take up the bill via unanimous consent, according to an aide for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
Cruz doesn’t often find friends on the opposite side of the aisle, but his bill had the backing of the third-ranking Senate Democrat, New York’s Chuck Schumer. “It may be a case of strange bedfellows, but I’m glad Senator Cruz and I were able to work out a bill that would prevent this terrorist from stepping foot on American soil,” Schumer said in a statement.
Iran’s choice for ambassador has thrown the future of nuclear negotiations — a new round of which began Tuesday — with the United States into question. A day after the Senate passed the measure, White House press secretary Jay Carney said, “We’ve informed the government of Iran that this potential selection is not viable.”
But Iran has thus far telegraphed that it’s standing by its pick, with Iranian foreign ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham telling reporters that Aboutalebi is qualified for the position. He has served as the Iranian ambassador to the European Union, and to nations such as Italy and Australia.
The bill is expected to pass before Congress recesses for two weeks.
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Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA) will subpoena two businesses owned by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Burr said, "We would like to hear from General Flynn. We'd like to see his documents. We'd like him to tell his story because he publicly said he had a story to tell."