Members of Congress Call on USAGM to Explain J-1 Visa Denial – By Jessica Jerreat (VOA News) / Sept 16 2020
WASHINGTON – A group of House and Senate members on Monday called on Michael Pack, head of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), to justify decisions that they say risk endangering the journalists and mission of USAGM’s networks, including Voice of America.
The nine Democratic lawmakers signed a letter to Pack requesting he explain how the agency’s actions, including not renewing visas for foreign journalists and the CEO’s comments on security risks, align with Pack’s stated desire to improve morale and the ability of the outlets to report and work more effectively.
Among the nine are Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Rep. Eliot Engel of New York, chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“Failing to renew these visas constitutes more than callous treatment of a class of employees and contractors who have put their unique skills and insights to use in service of the USAGM’s mission,” the letter read. It added that those affected by the denials provide reporting that is “often the only unvarnished, transparent and reliable news many people in foreign countries can access.”
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