House to Vote Thursday on Bill Barring Iran Ambassador From U.S.

Senate approved measure Monday to keep Iran’s proposed U.N. ambassador from entering the United States.

Flags fly over United Nations headquarters August 14, 2003 in New York City.
National Journal
Elahe Izad
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Elahe Izad
April 9, 2014, 1:39 p.m.

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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