President Obama Just Signed a Ted Cruz Bill Into Law

The measure, aimed at Iran, keeps “known terrorists” serving as U.N. ambassadors out of the U.S.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) addresses the Heritage Action for America's Conservative Policy Summit February 10, 2014 in Washington, DC.
National Journal
Elahe Izadi
April 18, 2014, 12:06 p.m.

Pres­id­ent Obama signed a bill in­to law Fri­day, au­thored by Re­pub­lic­an Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, to es­sen­tially bar Ir­an’s pro­posed United Na­tions am­bas­sad­or from en­ter­ing the United States.

The meas­ure, which eas­ily passed the Sen­ate and House by voice vote last week, denies ad­mis­sion to U.N. am­bas­sad­ors who the pres­id­ent deems have been en­gaged in ter­ror­ist activ­ity against the U.S. or its al­lies.

Last week, the U.S. de­cided not to is­sue a visa to Ir­an’s am­bas­sad­or pick, Ham­id Aboutalebi, who was part of the group in­volved in the 1979 Ir­an host­age crisis. But White House press sec­ret­ary Jay Car­ney had pre­vi­ously stopped short of say­ing the pres­id­ent would sign the bill in­to law, as it was be­ing re­viewed for its con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity.

But even as Obama signed the bill Fri­day, he made it clear that he would con­tin­ue to treat the un­der­ly­ing For­eign Re­la­tions Au­thor­iz­a­tion Act sec­tion the Cruz bill amends as “ad­vis­ory” in cases that it would un­der­mine his con­sti­tu­tion­al au­thor­ity to re­ceive U.N. am­bas­sad­ors, as George H.W. Bush poin­ted out when he first signed the act in­to law.

“Acts of es­pi­on­age and ter­ror­ism against the United States and our al­lies are un­ques­tion­ably prob­lems of the ut­most grav­ity, and I share the Con­gress’s con­cern that in­di­vidu­als who have en­gaged in such activ­ity may use the cov­er of dip­lomacy to gain ac­cess to our Na­tion,” Obama said in the state­ment. “Nev­er­the­less, as Pres­id­ent Bush also ob­served, ‘cur­tail­ing by stat­ute my con­sti­tu­tion­al dis­cre­tion to re­ceive or re­ject am­bas­sad­ors is neither a per­miss­ible nor a prac­tic­al solu­tion.’ “

The Cruz meas­ure closely mir­rors a House bill that Rep. Doug Lam­born, R-Colo., in­tro­duced in early April.

Aboutalebi has down­played his role in the host­age crisis, say­ing he was primar­ily a trans­lat­or and ne­go­ti­at­or. He pre­vi­ously served as a European Uni­on am­bas­sad­or.

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