House plans vote on Syrian, Iraqi refugee screening
Washington – — Determined to respond quickly to the Paris attacks, House Republicans outlined legislation Wednesday aimed at increasing screenings for Syrian and Iraqi refugees before they enter the United States, including a new requirement for FBI background checks.
They described the legislation, set for a vote Thursday, as an attempt to find a middle ground. The bill steers clear of demands from some Republicans, including presidential candidates, for religious screenings or a complete end to the U.S. refugee program.
“This is common sense. And it’s our obligation,” Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin said on the House floor. “If the intelligence and law-enforcement community cannot certify that a person presents no threat, then they should not be allowed in.”
President Barack Obama is vowing to veto the bill. The White House says the legislation would introduce “unnecessary and impractical requirements” that would harm efforts to assist some of the world’s most vulnerable people.
Most Americans want the U.S. to stop letting in Syrian refugees amid fears of terrorist infiltrations after the Paris attacks. The findings are part of a Bloomberg Politics National Poll released Wednesday that also shows the nation divided on whether to send U.S. troops to Iraq and Syria to fight the Islamic State.
Fifty-three percent of U.S. adults in the survey, conducted in the days immediately following the Paris attacks, say the nation should not continue a program to resettle up to 10,000 Syrian refugees. Just 28 percent would keep the program with the screening process as it now exists, while 9 percent said they would favor a limited program to accept only Syrian Christians while excluding Muslims.
“The House Republican legislation would immediately shut down all refugee resettlement from Syria and Iraq — possibly for many years — and severely handicap future refugee resettlement around the world,” Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff and Zoe Lofgren of California and Bennie Thompson of Mississippi said in a joint statement. “Some in Congress intend to use this tragedy to shut down the U.S. refugee program, turning our backs on victims.”
Bloomberg News contributed.
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.