House GOP looks to deny U.S. visa to Iran's ambassador

House Republicans on Tuesday proposed legislation aimed at blocking Iran's new ambassador to the United Nations from entering the United States.

The bill from Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) is a reaction to Iran's decision to name Hamid Abutalebi as its new U.N. representative. Lamborn said Abutalebi is a member of a militant group that took 52 Americans hostage in Tehran in 1979.

Lamborn said Abutalebi has applied for a visa to visit the United States in order to work at the U.N. headquarters in New York. But he said the U.S. should reject that application based on Abutalebi's background.

"America should not willingly accept into our country a diplomat who helped hold American diplomats hostage," Lamborn said Wednesday. "Diplomatic immunity should not apply to terrorists. The only way terrorists should be allowed into our country is if they are coming to face justice."

Lamborn's bill, H.R. 4357, is a House companion to legislation offered on Wednesday by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

It amends the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, which already allows the president to deny U.S. entry visas to U.N. representatives found to be engaging in spying against the United States, or who might pose a threat to U.S. national security.

The new legislation would add language saying visas must also be denied to any U.N. representatives who have engaged in terrorist acts against the country.

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