Led by Republicans, Congress has just taken the first step to ramping up safeguards for Americans against potential terrrorists entering the U.S. posing as refugees. And, in what should be a blow to President Obama, a large bloc of Democrats joined Republicans in this common-sense measure, which passed 289-137.
But of course, President Obama has already promised to veto it. And Harry Reid has suggested it might not even make it to Obama’s desk.
The House approved a bill Thursday that would block Syrian and Iraqi refugees from entering the country unless they pass strict background checks – setting up a collision with President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats.
The bill has unanimous support from Republicans, who were joined by a large bloc of Democrats — even after the Obama administration made a last-minute pitch to persuade wavering House Democrats to oppose the GOP-written bill.
The bipartisan support was a rebuke of President Barack Obama by House Democrats who felt that the administration failed to make a compelling case as to why they should vote against the Republican-authored bill when it was bad politics to do so.
“I think a lot of us went in with open minds and really wanted to understand the administration’s position on this,” said New York Democrat Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney. “It is offensive to me that we would stigmatize refugees…but if you read the bill what you find it that you have a pretty simple certification process sitting on top of an existing and extensive screening process that most of us believes works pretty well.”
The vote was a significant loss for the White House – perhaps the biggest setback since most of the House Democratic Caucus voted against Obama on a trade bill in mid-June. Thursday’s vote, coupled with the Iranian nuclear agreement bill from September, also shows that Republicans plan to make national security a key issue in the 2016 elections.
The measure faces an uncertain future in the Senate. Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) pledged Thursday that the Syria bill won’t make it Obama’s desk. Senators will likely attempt to tackle the measure as a rider to the government spending bill that Congress has to address in December.
Of course, President Obama, promising to veto the bill, is using his guilt tactics to try to shame bill supporters into submission — declaring that “This legislation would introduce unnecessary and impractical requirements that would unacceptably hamper our efforts to assist some of the most vulnerable people in the world, many of whom are victims of terrorism, and would undermine our partners in the Middle East and Europe in addressing the Syrian refugee crisis.”
To which, you just have to ask: what is “unnecessary” about performing strict background checks on a group of potentially high-risk immigrants seeking asylum in our land? I can only read into that that President Obama thinks it’s “unnecessary” to safeguard the American people in the highest possible way.
And apparently — but not surprisingly at this point — President Obama also believes it’s “unnecessary” to heed the will of the people he was elected to serve. As more than half of the country want the U.S. to stop letting in Syrian refugees amid fears of terrorist infiltrations after the Paris attacks, siding with Republican presidential candidates, governors, and lawmakers who want to freeze the Obama administration’s resettlement program.
But that’s unlikely to sway the president from driving his own agenda.
[Note: This article was written by Michelle Jesse, Associate Editor]