The Senate overwhelmingly rejected an amendment offered by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) last week that would have suspended visas to the U.S. from “high risk” countries until new enhanced security processes are in place.
Paul’s amendment would have designated 33 countries as “high risk” and placed moratoriums on refugee resettlement and visa issuance to nationals from those countries until the Secretary of State, Secretary of Homeland Security, and Director of National Intelligence certify and new processes to identify security risks.
The 33 countries included: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Egypt, Eritrea, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, North Korea, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tunisia,Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Yemen, and the Palestinian Territories.
The bill would also have required a 30-day security review of immigrants seeking to enter the U.S., even if the traveler was from a country participating in the Visa Waiver Program.
Paul, who is a Republican candidate for president, argued that senators who “truly” wanted to “defend our country” should vote for his amendment — which he sought to attach to last week’s Obamacare repeal effort.
“We spend hundreds of billions of dollars defending our country, and yet we cannot really truly defend our country unless we defend our border,” he said on the Senate floor Thursday.
“My bill would place pause on issuing Visas to countries that are at a high risk for exporting terrorists to us. My bill would also say to Visa waiver countries that in order to come and visit, you would have to go through Global Entry, which would require a background check,” he added.
Just 10 senators, all Republicans — including Paul — voted in favor of the legislation Thursday: Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL), Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS), Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), and Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) — reelection Kirk, Moran, Lee and Shelby are all up for reelection and Vitter is retiring next year.
One senator —Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) — did not vote and 89 senators voted against the proposal.
The Republicans who voted against the amendment included: Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), Sen. John Boozman (R-AR), Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN), Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID), Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT), Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA), Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE), Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Sen Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND), Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Sen. Ron Johnson(R-WI), Sen. James Lankford (R-OK), Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Sen. David Perdue (R-GA), Sen. David Risch (R-ID), Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Sen. John Thune (R-SD), Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS). Murkowski, Boozman, McCain, Rubio, Isakson, Grassley, Crapo, Blunt, Burr, Hoeven, Ayotte, Portman, Lankford, Toomey, Scott, Thune, and Johnson are up for reelection in 2016. Coats is retiring next year.
The Democrats and Independents who voted against the amendment were: Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Boxer (D-CA), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), Sen Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA), Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), Sen. Angus King (I-ME), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI), Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), Sen. Mark Udall (D-NM), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). Bennet, Blumenthal, Leahy, Murray, Schatz, Schumer, and Wyden are up for reelection next year. Boxer, Mikulski, and Reid are retiring in 2016.