House passes bill to revoke passports of terror suspects
© Greg Nash

The House passed legislation on Wednesday that would allow the State Department to revoke passports for people involved with foreign terrorist groups.

Passage of the measure, by voice vote, came a day after a man drove a truck into a school bus in New York City.

The suspect, Sayfullo Saipov, allegedly drew inspiration from the Islamic State group in carrying out the attack, which killed eight people and injured more than a dozen others. Saipov came to the U.S. from Uzbekistan through the diversity visa program in 2010.

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The bill authored by Rep. Ted PoeLloyd (Ted) Theodore PoeTexas New Members 2019 Cook shifts two House GOP seats closer to Dem column Five races to watch in the Texas runoffs MORE (R-Texas) to refuse passports to people who assist or are members of foreign terrorist organizations had already been scheduled for consideration before Tuesday’s attack in New York City.

But lawmakers said the attack showed the need for legislation to address foreign terrorist threats.

“The terrorist attack in New York City comes as a devastating reminder that the enemies of liberty will not cease,” Poe said. “The terrorist last night was an immigrant from Uzbekistan. But we know even that within our midst, there are Americans who sympathize with those who seek to destroy our freedom.”

Rep. Eliot EngelEliot Lance EngelHouse chairmen consult with counsel about ways to get notes from Trump-Putin meetings Cuba says US secretly moving special forces closer to Venezuela House passes bill to end US support for Saudi war in Yemen MORE (N.Y.), the top-ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, acknowledged that the changes proposed by the bill would not have prevented Tuesday’s attack in New York City. But he said that it is “a piece of a larger strategy.”

“We don’t want known threats crossing our borders or slipping from country to country anywhere in the world,” Engel said.

The bill would not go as far as stripping Americans of their citizenship if their passports are revoked.

It would also provide individuals whose passports are denied or revoked the chance to request a hearing before the State Department within 60 days to appeal the decision.

The House passed similar legislation by Poe in 2015, but it did not become law.

President Trump called for ending the visa program used by Saipov in response to the attack.

“Diversity lottery. Sounds nice. It’s not good. It’s not good. It hasn’t been good. We’ve been against it,” Trump said at the White House on Wednesday.

The program uses random selection to give green cards to about 50,000 people from countries with historically low immigration rates.

It was enacted in 1990 with bipartisan support, but lawmakers could move to eliminate it. A 2013 immigration reform bill crafted by a group of Senate Republicans and Democrats called for scrapping the program. That bill passed in the Senate, yet stalled in the House.

The House did, however, pass legislation in 2012 to end the program.