TIME White House

Obama Signs Bill Barring Terrorist Ambassadors

IRAN-US-DIPLOMACY-UN-POLITICS
An undated handout picture released by the official website of the Iranian president on April 11, 2014 shows Tehran's newly appointed UN ambassador Hamid Aboutalebi who has been recently denied a US visa. Handout/AFP/Getty Images

The bill, sponsored by Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, is a response to Iran selecting Hamid Aboutalebi as its Ambassador to the United Nations. Aboutalebi allegedly participated 1979 Iranian hostage crisis

President Barack Obama signed a bill Friday that amends federal law to bar terrorists or others deemed to be threats to the United States entry to the country to serve as Ambassadors to the United Nations.

The measure, sponsored by Sen. Ted Cruz, was passed in response to Iran selecting Hamid Aboutalebi as its next Ambassador to the UN. Aboutalebi allegedly participated 1979 Iranian hostage crisis. The White House had already announced that a request for a visa for Aboutalebi would be denied.

The bill is the freshman senator’s first legislation to be passed by Congress and signed by the president.

Obama issued a rare signing statement as he signed the bill into law, saying he, like former President George H.W. Bush on a similar piece of legislation, is concerned it could infringe on his executive authority. “As President Bush also observed, “curtailing by statute my constitutional discretion to receive or reject ambassadors is neither a permissible nor a practical solution.” I shall therefore continue to treat section 407, as originally enacted and as amended by S. 2195, as advisory in circumstances in which it would interfere with the exercise of this discretion.”

Iran is protesting the decision to deny Aboutalebi a visa.

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