Senate Republicans want the Obama administration to crack down on Vietnamese officials who violate human rights.
Sen. John CornynJohn CornynLawmakers eye early exit from Washington Victims of Nazi Art theft need Congress to HEAR Overnight Cybersecurity: Last-ditch effort to stop expanded hacking powers fails MORE (R-Texas) has introduced legislation that would block Vietnamese nationals connected to human rights abuses from traveling to the United States and freeze any assets currently under U.S. jurisdiction.
The legislation is backed by Sen. Marco RubioMarco RubioThe ignored question: What does the future Republican Party look like? Graham to roll out extension of Obama immigration program Trump and Cuba: A murky future MORE (R-Fla.), who is running for president, as well as Republican Sens. John BoozmanJohn BoozmanDeficits could stand in the way of Trump's agenda The untold stories of the 2016 battle for the Senate SENATE: Republicans defy odds to keep majority MORE (Ark.) and Bill Cassidy (La.).
The legislation would require President Obama to come up with a list of individuals targeted for financial penalties, and turn over the list to Congress within 90 days.
The senators argue that United States's increased involvement with the Vietnamese government in recent decades has not been matched by an expansion in political or human rights.
“The relationship between the United States and Vietnam cannot progress if the government of Vietnam continues to completely disregard the human rights of its own citizens," Cornyn said in a statement. "There is a serious and immediate need for more targeted U.S. action on behalf of the Vietnamese people."
The legislation would also give congressional backing to the Obama administration naming Vietnam as a "country of particular concern" on religious freedom.
The label applies to countries that commit systemic violations of religious freedom.
The U.S. Commission on Religious Freedom previously recommended that the State Department give the designation to Vietnam. In its 2015 annual report, it noted that the Vietnamese government "continues to control all religious activities through law and administration oversight, restrict severely independent religious practice, and repress individuals and religious groups its views as challenging its authority."