House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will not be permitted to use State Department funds to travel to nations that are known to have sponsored terrorism if a Republican amendment to appropriations legislation passes the House on Thursday.
The amendment to the $34 billion State and Foreign Operations bill, offered by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), prohibits funds to be used to travel to Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan or Syria.
In a “Dear Colleague” letter released earlier today, King said Pelosi had overstepped her constitutional role as Speaker when she traveled to Syria in April.
“Taking her cue from the Iraq Study Group’s recommendation that the U.S. enter into talks with Syria to forge a new way forward in Iraq, Speaker Pelosi decided to ignore the requests of the President that she refrain from traveling to the terrorist state,” the letter said.
King told The Hill that he believed Pelosi was in violation of the Logan Act, a 1799 law signed by President John Adams that prohibits unauthorized U.S. citizens from interfering with relations between the United States and foreign governments.
“I was one of the members of Congress that was incensed the Speaker had taken it upon herself to conduct foreign policy,” he said. “It was a blatant violation of the Logan Act.”
No one has ever been prosecuted under the 208-year old law, according to the Congressional Research Service.
He said that it was not the visit that caused him to introduce the measure, but Pelosi’s decision, in his perception, to act as a diplomat that made him take action.
“She carried a message from Israel to Syria and that message according to representatives of both Syria and Israel wasn’t consistent with what one of them agreed to … these are the kind of problems you get,” he said.
A spokesman for Pelosi brushed off the amendment as a partisan attack.
“How can anyone take this amendment seriously, especially when it comes on the same day that Bush Administration officials are in North Korea? And why would anyone think it is responsible to restrict the ability of the Speaker of the House to bring the concerns of the American people to foreign leaders? It is part of the Speaker’s job,” said spokesman Nadeam Elshami, a spokesman for Pelosi. “This amendment is a cheap political stunt that just won’t fly.”