What the f…
Republicans on Monday blasted Secretary of State John Kerry for suggesting in a letter to his Iranian counterpart that the administration could help the country get around new visa restrictions passed by Congress.
“Instead of bending over backwards to try to placate the Iranian regime, the White House needs to be holding it accountable for its recent missile tests, its continued support for terrorism, and its wrongful imprisonment of Americans,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., said in a statement to FoxNews.com.
At issue are tightened security requirements for America’s visa waiver program, which allows citizens of 38 countries to travel to the U.S. without visas. Under changes in the newly signed spending bill, people from those countries who have traveled to Iran, Iraq, Syria and Sudan in the past five years must now obtain visas to enter the U.S.
Top Tehran officials, however, complained the changes violate the terms of the nuclear deal, which says the U.S. and other world powers will refrain from any policy intended to adversely affect normalization of trade and economic relations with Iran.
Kerry responded to these concerns in a Dec. 19 letter to his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif — and suggested the administration could simply bypass the rules for Iran.
“I am also confident that the recent changes in visa requirements passed in Congress, which the Administration has the authority to waive, will not in any way prevent us from meeting our [nuclear deal] commitments, and that we will implement them so as not to interfere with legitimate business interests of Iran,” he said.
Kerry’s letter to Zarif assured that the U.S. would “adhere to the full measure of our commitments.” As for changes to the visa program, Kerry floated several alternative options for easing any impact on Iran – including waiving the new requirements.
“To this end, we have a number of potential tools available to us, including multiple entry ten-year business visas, programs for expediting business visas, and the waiver authority provided under the new legislation,” he wrote.
The legislation indeed includes a provision allowing the Homeland Security secretary to waive the requirements if the secretary determines this “is in the law enforcement or national security interests of the United States.”
But House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., voiced concern on Monday that Kerry was proposing a “blanket” waiver to accommodate Iran’s complaints. He said that is not Congress’ intent.
Read more: Fox News