Cruz bill would stop Iranian ‘terrorist’ from entering US

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said Tuesday that Iran has nominated an “acknowledged terrorist,” who held the U.S. embassy hostage, to be its next United Nations ambassador.

“It is deliberately insulting and contemptuous,” Cruz said after introducing a bill that would prevent the ambassador from entering the United States.

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Ahead of Cruz’s comments on the Senate floor, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said the nomination was an “affront” to the United States.

“The person who has been nominated to be the U.N. ambassador for Iran is a gentleman who participated in the takeover of our embassy in Iran [in 1979],” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said. “This is a slap in the face by the Iranian government to the American people. … It should not be allowed to stand.”

Cruz’s bill, S. 2195, would allow the president to deny a visa to someone who has engaged in terrorism against the United States or someone the president believes poses a threat to the country. It is already law that the president can deny a visa to someone who has engaged in espionage against.

Cruz said he was going to try to pass the measure through a unanimous consent agreement, but held off because he’s been told the Senate might take bipartisan action on the bill later this week.

“There is a real possibility of bipartisan cooperation,” Cruz said. “I hope this week we see the Senate act in a bipartisan way.”

Graham said he supports Cruz’s bill and that the Senate should take action to prevent the ambassador from entering New York, where the United Nations is located. 

“The idea of making this gentleman the ambassador to the United Nations for Iran, when he’s violated every diplomatic principle and law … is an affront,” Graham said.

The State Department has delayed Hamid Aboutalebi’s visa, despite the fact that he has denied involvement in the hostage situation that took place more than 30 years ago. But Cruz said under current law, President Obama would eventually have to let Aboutalebi into the country because he is an ambassador.

— This article was updated at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday.