House Votes to Increase Scrutiny on Syrian and Iraqi Refugee Screening Process

Syria vote

The House of Representatives passed H.R. 4038, a bill to beef up security measures for admitting refugees from Syria and Iraq into the United States, in a vote 289 to 137 on Thursday. Only two Republicans voted against the bill, while 47 Democrats joined the majority in voting to pass the legislation.

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul’s (R-TX) American Security Against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act – that he argues “puts in place a robust vetting process for refugees” – will now move to the Senate.

However, even if the Senate takes up the legislation and passes it, President Obama has reportedly said he will veto any bill that places more security clearances onto the refugee admittance process. Obama said the extra steps would “hamper our efforts to assist some of the most vulnerable people in the world.”

Breitbart News previously reported that “McCaul’s bill contains several holes and doesn’t fix the problem—it simply requires more paperwork from the administration, and still lets refugees into the U.S. from Syria, according to sources close to Breitbart News.”

McCaul’s bill requires: (1) “The FBI director must certify the background investigation of each refugee” and (2) “the secretary of homeland security, FBI director and the director of national intelligence must unanimously concur that each refugee is not a security threat to the United states and make a certification to Congress.”

According to the House Majority Leader’s office, McCaul’s legislation “constitutes an effective pause until we are certain that no refugee from Iraq and Syria who is a threat will be allowed in the country.”

However, Breitbart News has learned that many conservatives are skeptical, saying McCaul’s bill doesn’t stop the flow of refugees from Syria into the United States, something the American public supports.

McCaul’s legislation moved to the House floor Thursday after a Rules Committee hearing late Wednesday night blocked all other amendments to accompany the bill from both Democrats and fellow Republicans.

Republican Congressman Brian Babin (R-TX) offered one amendment to the McCaul bill during the Rules Committee hearing Wednesday night that would have placed a moratorium on refugees coming into the U.S. for six-months; however, House GOP leadership blocked that amendment from accompanying McCaul’s legislation.

Babin joined Breitbart News Daily on SiriusXM with host Stephen K. Bannon Thursday morning before the vote on McCaul’s bill and said, “No matter what we pass today it’s not going anywhere because we’ve got the Democrats against us, we’ve got the President who obviously does not understand the enemy and is already promised to veto.” Babin added, “The real fight will be on the upcoming spending bill.”

Prior to the vote, House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (R-CA) said, “This bill does not make us safer. It does not reflect our values and it does not have my support.” Pelosi suggested she prefers a bill put forth by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), but had been blocked.

Lofgren said, “We were unable to come up with a bipartisan bill today,” adding that she believes her and Thompson’s bill is tougher than McCaul’s legislation. “We also took good ideas from McCaul’s bill.”

Speaker of the House Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) said, “This plan pauses the program. It’s a security test, not a religious test.” Ryan’s remarks came before the passage of McCaul’s bill, stressing that, “We cannot and should not wait to act not when our national security is at stake.”

Ryan said this is the first step to protect Americans and to defeat ISIS.


According to the Associated Press, the 289 votes met the two-thirds needed to override a potential veto.


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