The House Judiciary Committee passed a bill Wednesday calling on the State Department to classify the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group by a 17-10 party-line vote.
The GOP leadership under Speaker Paul Ryan supports the legislation, a high-ranking Republican source told the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) on background. This makes floor passage more likely.
The bill states that it is the "sense of Congress that the Muslim Brotherhood meets the criteria for classification as a foreign terrorist organization."
Under the bill as amended by committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., Secretary of State John Kerry would have 60 days to issue a detailed report to Congress indicating whether the Brotherhood meets the criteria qualifying it as a terrorist group.
"The Brotherhood's strategic goal 'in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and 'sabotaging' its miserable house from within so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all other religions," Goodlatte said, quoting the Brotherhood's 1991 Explanatory Memorandum, in a statement given before the vote. "The Brotherhood and its leaders and affiliates, such as Hamas, have supported Islamist terrorism – directly, through fundraising, and through exhortation.
"Each of these activities constitutes an act of terrorism under the Immigration and Nationality Act."
Under the bill, the administration would be forced to deny admittance to any foreign national tied to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Since Obama became president, people connected to the Muslim Brotherhood have received entry visas despite their open support for terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hizballah.
Previously banned individuals such as Sheikh Rached Ghannouchi, head of Tunisia's branch of the Brotherhood, and Tariq Ramadan, grandson of Brotherhood founder Hasan al-Banna, have been welcomed to the U.S. by the Obama administration despite their vocal support for Hamas. Ramadan fought his ban in court and won an appeal.
Other foreign Brotherhood speakers such as Ragheb Elsergany exploit the platform given to them by the Obama administration to advocate for Muslims to support Palestinian "mujahideen" fighting against Israel.
If the Brotherhood were designated, it would be a crime for people in the United Sates to provide material support to it, and the Treasury Department could force banks to block financial transactions related to the Brotherhood. The bill lists U.S. groups that include the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT) as groups under the control of the international Muslim Brotherhood.
"The Muslim Brotherhood continues to pose a global threat. The jihadist movement actively supports and finances terrorist networks around the world, including al-Qaida and Hamas. The United States must recognize and sanction the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization as part of our national security strategy," co-sponsor Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., said in a statement.
The White House declined to comment on the committee vote.