Republican lawmakers are criticizing the Obama administration after the Office of Management and Budget approved a new rule to lift a ban on Libyan pilots and nuclear scientists training in the United States.
“It is unbelievable that this Administration is willing to put Americans in harm’s way by lifting a decades-old security ban on a country challenged by instability. This makes no sense. None,” Utah Republican Jason Chaffetz said Monday. “Recent events – such as the 2012 attack on our U.S. Consulate in Benghazi – do not indicate a nation where things have been ‘normalized.'”
In the 1980s, the U.S. government placed the restrictions on Libyan nationals seeking to study aviation or nuclear science in the U.S. due to concerns about terrorist threats. The Obama administration is arguing now, however, that relations between the U.S. and Libya have “normalized.”
The abstract of the rule reads:
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is amending its regulations by rescinding the regulatory provisions promulgated in 1983 that terminated the nonimmigrant status and barred the granting of certain immigration benefits to Libyan nationals and foreign nationals acting on behalf of Libyan entities who are engaging in or seeking to obtain studies or training in aviation maintenance, flight operations, or nuclear-related fields. The United States Government and the Government of Libya have normalized their relationship and most of the restrictions and sanctions imposed by the United States and the United Nations toward Libya have been lifted
According to Republican lawmakers, however, the terrorist threat remains.
“The burden of proof for advocating a change in the status quo lies with the Administration. Is post-revolutionary Libya secure enough to change the rules? Why now? What evidence does the Administration have to assert the relationship between Libya and the U.S. has indeed normalized?” The Chairman of House Select Committee on Benghazi, Trey Gowdy, said.
House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte argued Monday that the Obama administration “is turning a blind eye to real terrorist threats that exist in Libya today.”
“Just weeks ago, Americans working at the U.S. embassy in Tripoli were evacuated due to rival rebel groups battling each other for control of the area. And less than two years ago, the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was attacked by terrorists, leaving four Americans killed,” the Virginia Republican said, adding that the Department of Homeland Security has failed to provide his committee with documents it requests about the potential rule change and has not explained “why it is in Americans’ best interests to change policy.”
“Given the ongoing volatility in Libya, it is unconscionable and completely irresponsible that the Administration plans to lift a longstanding policy that protects Americans and our national security from threats in the region. I urge Secretary Johnson to stop this dangerous plan from taking effect,” Goodlatte added.