No Support at White House for Lieberman Citizenship Bill

Posted May 6, 2010 at 5:46pm

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said he doesn’t know of a single person at the White House who supports legislation unveiled Thursday by Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) that would strip the citizenship of Americans with ties to foreign terrorist groups.

“I have not heard anybody that supports it at all,” Gibbs told reporters at his daily briefing, when asked about the administration’s position on the measure put forward by Lieberman and Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.). Pennsylvania Reps. Jason Altmire (D) and Charlie Dent (R) are sponsoring companion legislation in the House.

Under the proposal, the government would have the authority to strip the citizenship of any American fighting for an organized military of an enemy of the United States. The bill comes in response to last weekend’s botched New York City car bombing by Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad. Lieberman noted, however, that even if the bill were to quickly become law it would not apply to Shahzad since he was arrested prior to its passage.

Gibbs said he didn’t know specifically why White House officials weren’t in favor of the measure, except to say that it was not “an effective way” to address terrorism. He also noted that, despite the bill having bipartisan co-sponsors, he has heard “Democrats and Republicans alike express concern about the legislation.”

Earlier Thursday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she likes “the spirit” of the bill but warned that lawmakers “have to be careful” in terms of what constitutes grounds for someone to lose their citizenship, such as a conviction.

“Without getting too far into it, maybe I support it. I have to see the language, and what the standard is,” Pelosi told reporters during her weekly briefing.