Post Paris, Refugee Issue Threatens Government Funding
Last month, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham (R), chairman of the Senate appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over the State Department and refugee issues introduced legislation (S. 2145) to provide an additional $1 billion in FY2016 funding to bolster refugee resettlement efforts. In the wake of the Islamic State’s terrorist attacks in Paris, Graham and other lawmakers are calling for a “timeout on Syrian refugees.”
On Monday, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) wrote to President Obama requesting the temporary suspension of all Syrian refugees into the U.S. pending a review of the Syrian refugee resettlement program.
The lawmakers are concerned that terrorists posing as refugees may find their way into the country.
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has said he will soon introduce legislation that will halt issuance of visas to persons from all countries with “significant jihadist movements.” Approximately 30 countries would be covered by his legislation.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz (R) this weekend suggested the U.S. should admit Christian refugees, but called admitting Muslim refugees “nothing less than lunacy.”
President Obama and congressional Democrats have pushed back on rhetoric suggesting the U.S. have a religious or ethnic litmus test for admittance of refugees, while acknowledging security protocols and due diligence must be taken to ensure those allowed into the country as refugees do not pose a harm to the homeland.
The timing of the refugee debate coming as lawmakers are working on an omnibus spending bill to fund the government after the expiration of the current continuing resolution on December 11 has raised the specter of a government shutdown over disagreement on funding the Administration’s plan to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees in the country next year.
Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions (R), an immigration hardliner, sent a letter to his Senate colleagues urging them to leverage the appropriations process to tighten funding on the refugee resettlement program.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and newly-minted House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) have both said they are mulling inclusion of a refugee funding policy rider on the government appropriations bill, increasing the stakes that the disagreement between parties may result in a government shutdown.
Posted in From the Hill