Pant-wetters in Congress afraid of monsters under the bed gave into their fear and bigotry and voted for a bill that would essentially close America’s door to resettlement of refugees fleeing war and terrorism. The bill has an uncertain future in the Senate, and President Obama has promised to veto it.
Every Tea-Publican voted for it, and sadly so did 47 Democrats — including the usual suspect Kyrsten Sinema — who should turn in their membership cards as a member of a humane country. Here is the roll call for the vote. This is not who we are as Americans.
The Washington Post reports, House votes to tighten flow of refugees over Obama’s objections:
The House on Thursday overwhelmingly passed legislation aimed at tightening controls on refugees from Syria and Iraq, in what Republican leaders say is a swift and strong response to last week’s terror attacks in Paris.
The vote was 289 to 137.
The bill’s fate, however, is uncertain after President Obama delivered a veto threat Wednesday and key senators said they are more concerned about security vulnerabilities other than the refugee program.
The vote gives House Republicans some leverage because Thursday’s tally is enough to override a veto with more than two-thirds of those voting supporting the bill, including 47 Democrats. Attention now turns to what the Senate does with the legislation, a decision that likely won’t come until after Thanksgiving.
But efforts to place new security constraints on Obama’s pledge to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees to the United States over the coming year could bleed into negotiations over a government spending bill that must be completed in early December, with Republicans and some Democrats seizing on polls showing that Americans are deeply concerned about a potential terrorist infiltration.
“This reflects our values; this reflects our responsibilities,” House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wisc.) said of the legislation. “We cannot and should not wait to act, not when our national security is at stake.”
Speak for yourself, Eddie Munster. This is does not reflect our American values, quite the opposite. Refugees who go through the screening process for resettlement process are probably the least likely threat to the U.S. It is self-radicalized U.S. citizens who have easy access to guns who pose the more serous threat. That has been the historical record so far.
The Republican bill would require the FBI director to certify the background investigation for each Syrian or Iraqi refugee admitted to the U.S., and Homeland Security and intelligence officials would have to certify that they are not security threats.
The Obama administration said Wednesday that the bill would “introduce unnecessary and impractical requirements that would unacceptably hamper our efforts to assist some of the most vulnerable people in the world.”
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House Select Committee on Intelligence, said the bill distracts from more significant vulnerabilities — such as the State Department’s visa waiver program, which last year allowed 20 million visitors from 38 countries access to the U.S. with less rigorous vetting.
“The terms may appears benign, but the impact of requiring certification would bring the process to a halt,” Schiff said. “I don’t support stopping the refugee program. I think it’s a multi-year rigorous vetting process and far more intensive than anything we see with people coming from Europe on the visa waiver program.”
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Two high-ranking administration officials, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, briefed House Democrats Thursday morning, shortly before the first votes on the refugee bill.
Several Democrats said the officials failed to make a persuasive case that the GOP bill would create an unreasonable burden on the refugee screening process.
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“They have persuaded us that this is a really good process, but they don’t want to certify it,” he said. “That’s an inherently difficult argument to make.”
Really? You can’t understand why someone will not certify that an individual will not at some time in their lifetime do something wrong? What are they, future cops? Mind readers? Would you certify that someone is 100% certain never to do anything wrong? This is an unachievable metric, and is ridiculous to assert. (That idiot Sen. Marco “Big Gulp” Rubio suggested the other day that if only one out of 10,000 refugees did some act of terrorism, it is an unacceptable risk, demonstrating this point. It is about closing the door to all refugees.)
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the bill represented an “obstacle” to the resettlement of those fleeing terrorism, rather than a viable way to improve national security.
“You cannot have thousands of applications reviewed by the top law enforcement people in our country,” she said, adding that it “sends the complete wrong message” to the world.
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Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) predicted the House legislation wouldn’t get through the Senate and said he doubts Obama would have to make good on his veto threat.
“Don’t worry, it won’t get passed,” Reid told reporters Thursday.
In the Senate, after several days of anxiety over the refugee program, attention turned toward the visa waiver program.
Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said Wednesday they plan to introduce legislation tightening that program by ending visa waivers for anyone who has traveled to Syria or Iraq in the past five years.
The perpetrators of Friday’s terror attacks who have thus far been identified were French nationals who, because of that, would have been eligible to enter the United States with only minimal prior screening.
Doh! See how ridiculous this refugee bill is?
”The problem is the European communities, which are generally all visa waiver communities,” Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said Wednesday after exiting a closed-door briefing with homeland security officials. “Let’s say France has had 2,000 people leave to go and fight. They are visa waiver countries, so the people come back to France and then they [can] come into the United States. The bill we would propose would strictly limit that.”
Those seeking visa waivers must fill out an online application that is checked against security databases, and applicants are routinely denied waivers. But securing a traditional visa involves a more rigorous process, usually involving an in-person interview at an American consulate abroad.
Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the Senate’s second-ranking Democrat, said several of the Paris attacks were on no-fly lists but that others were not — and, theoretically, could have boarded planes to the United States with French passports and entered the country with a visa waiver. ”That is a vulnerability far greater than 70,000 thoroughly vetted refugees,” Durbin said.
Flake, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, struck a similar tone, calling visa waivers “much more of a concern, frankly, than refugees,” as did Foreign Affairs Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.): “The visa waiver program potentially is the place where there’s greater gaps, possibly, than the refugee program itself.”
The Department of Homeland Security made some changes to the visa waiver program in August in response to similar concerns about the threat from radicals who hold European passports. Countries who wish to participate in the program must use passports that include biometric data about their holders and share more data about travelers.
Feinstein said in January, after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris, that she planned to introduce legislation aimed at tightening gaps in the program, but those plans did not advance.