GOP Leaders Silent on Refugee Funding in Omnibus

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

Following GOP frontrunner Donald Trump’s call for a temporary pause on Muslim migration, Congressional GOP leaders refused to say whether the omnibus bill would fund President Obama’s resettlement of Muslim refugees, and whether the omnibus would allow Obama to continue distributing the same large number of visas and green cards to Muslim migrants.

Senior Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Richard Shelby has explained that if Congress intends to stop Obama’s refugee resettlement program, it must do so through appropriations in the year-end omnibus spending bill. Shelby writes:

 In order to carry out his plans, the President needs the annual appropriation for the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement and other budget items.  Congress therefore, through its spending power, can block the President’s plans.  Absent such restrictions, the omnibus spending bill will give the President all the funds he needs to carry out the resettlement of nearly 100,000 refugees this year alone.  First and foremost, this is a question of appropriations.

Yet when Breitbart News reached out to Congressional Republican leadership, all either protested ignorance about the funding bill’s contents, or simply failed to reply.

The Congressional Republican Leadership is comprised of ten members. In the Senate: Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Majority Whip John Cornyn, Conference Chairman John Thune, Policy Committee Chairman John Barrasso, and Conference Vice Chairman Roy Blunt. In the House: Speaker Paul Ryan, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Majority Whip Steve Scalise, Conference Chairman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, and Policy Committee Chairman Luke Messer.

The leadership offices of Roy Blunt, Luke Messer, Kevin McCarthy, and Steve Scalise all claimed that they were not familiar with the appropriations process and the bill’s contents.

“That’s the first I’ve heard of that being in the omni,” one senior aide for a member of GOP Senate leadership told Breitbart News.

But as Sen. Shelby explained in his joint statement with Jeff Sessions, funding for the Office of Refugee Resettlement and related federal refugee programs is a part of every annual appropriations bill. Moreover, it was growing concern over the impact of Muslim refugees that led scores of House lawmakers to call for stripping funds from the omnibus or placing firm conditions on how the funds could be spent.

The senior Senate aide was apparently unaware that two of his boss’ Senate colleagues, as well as 74 House lawmakers have urged Congress to strip the blank check for refugee resettlement from the omnibus.

When Breitbart News followed up with those particular offices and asked if they agreed with Shelby’s call that the “government funding bill cancel the President’s blank check for refugee resettlement,” their offices did not answer.

The leadership offices of Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, John Barrasso, John Thune, and John Cornyn did not respond to any of Breitbart’s request regarding the contents of the year-end funding bill.

This year, the U.S. will issue about 280,000 visas to Muslim migrants— this figure includes temporary guest workers, foreign students, refugees, asylees, and those permanently resettled on green cards. As a comparison, there are about 180,000 active members of the Daughters of the American Revolution. That means that this year the U.S. will admit more Muslim migrants than there are Daughters of the American Revolution. Additionally, this year the U.S. will admit more migrants from the Muslim world than there were men who fought under the command of George Washington in the Revolutionary War.

Similarly, the U.S. will admit more Muslim migrants this year than could fill—more than four times over—the original Yankee Stadium— “The House That Ruth Built,” where the Great Bambino hit his famous 60th home run.

According to Department of Homeland Security data analyzed by the Senate Immigration Subcommittee, in the next five years, the U.S. will hand out green cards to a population of Muslim migrants larger than the size of Washington D.C. A green card puts recipients on a pathway to citizenship— thus making them eligible for all federal welfare programs, as well as granting them access to U.S. voting booths.

According to a new Pew report released Monday, Muslims in America favor the Democratic Party (70%) over the Republican Party (11%) by a more than six-to-one margin. Pew notes that 68% of Muslims in America “say they prefer bigger government providing more services… over a smaller government providing fewer services.”

This year, the U.S. will hand out two visas to Muslim migrants for every one Republican primary voter in Iowa.

The same Pew report notes that several of the Muslim countries to which the U.S. issues large numbers of visas, have very positive views of sharia law. Pew writes, “Nearly all Muslims in Afghanistan (99%) and most in Iraq (91%) and Pakistan (84%) support sharia law as official law.”

In the last five years, according to Department Homeland Security data, the U.S. issued 83,000 green cards to Iraq, 83,000 green cards to Pakistan, and 11,000 to Afghanistan.

According to a new AP-GFK poll, three in four Republican voters believe immigration from the Middle East is too high. Interestingly, the AP-GFK poll did not ask specifically about Syrian migration nor did the poll provide any context for the respondents about the nation’s current immigration numbers, which are rarely reported by the media. For instance, most media coverage of Trump’s call for a temporary migration pause did not provide any context about the fact that the U.S. has permanently resettled 1.5 million Muslim migrants on green cards since 9/11.

According to Rasmussen, 65% of conservative voters believe the U.S. should not accept any refugees from the Middle East—again, Rasmussen did not ask specifically about Syrian migrants. By contrast, a recent YouGov/Economist poll asked specifically about Muslim migration from Syria and found that 66% of women believe the U.S. should not accept any Syrian Muslim refugees.

Sen. Rand Paul recently observed:

Most of the evidence of terrorism so far in our country has had something to do with immigration. The 19 hijackers came here through our legal immigration system. Some were student visas, some were visitors… the Boston bombers came here, also as asylum seekers. In my town, Bowling Green, Kentucky, we had two Iraqi refugees come here. So, absolutely we need to push pause, we need to have a moratorium until we know whether or not we can actually look at our immigration system and make sure that we’re not letting people come here to attack us.

While many lawmakers have expressed support for denying Obama his refugee funding, it seems unlikely that the bill will include such a provision. Today, Speaker Paul Ryan made a point to denounce the GOP frontrunner’s position on pausing Muslim immigration saying, “Normally I do not comment on what is going on in the presidential election. I will take an exception today. This is not conservatism. What he proposed yesterday is not what the party stands for and more importantly is not what the country stands for.”

Ryan claimed, “The vast, vast, vast majority [of Muslims] are peaceful and believe in pluralism, freedom, democracy and individual rights.” However, Hoover Institution media fellow and New York Post contributor Paul Sperry has noted that there are, “51% of Muslims living in the U.S. who just this June told Polling Co. they preferred having ‘the choice of being governed according to Shariah,’ or Islamic law.” Perry writes that, “60% of Muslim-Americans under 30 told Pew Research they’re more loyal to Islam than America.”

Ryan’s statement against an immigration pause seems consistent with this two-decade long history of pushing open borders policies. Last month, Paul Ryan told popular Fox News anchor Sean Hannity that he would not support curbs to Muslim immigration. In his questioning, Hannity provided his viewers with the numerical context—absent from most media’s reporting on the subject— documenting the vast scope of Muslim immigration. Hannity said:

We have resettled 1.5 million Muslim migrants in the United States [since 9/11]… Do we have to think about somebody who grows up under Sharia— believes that women can’t drive, can’t be seen in public without a male relative, four eyewitnesses for rape— do we have a clash of cultures we’ve got to consider? How do we know if they want to assimilate? How do we know if they want to bring terror into the United States? How will we ascertain that?

Ryan replied by saying in part, “I don’t think a religious test [for screening migrants] is appropriate. That’s not who we are.”

However, contrary to Speaker Ryan’s assertion, under current U.S. law—as Andrew McCarthy as pointed out— “the executive branch is expressly required to take religion into account in determining who is granted asylum.”

While Ryan seems to have ruled out curbing Muslim migration, prominent conservatives have observed that Ryan’s refugee plan—which purports to improve screening for Syrian and Iraqi refugees— in Rich Lowry’s words, “doesn’t do anything.”

Although Ryan declared seven times during his interview with Hannity that his refugee plan would “pause” refugee resettlement, Lowry explained that this is not the case.  Lowry wrote in a National Review Corner post, “Uh, the House Bill to Pause the Syrian Refugee Program Doesn’t Really Pause the Syrian Refugee Program.” As Jeff Sessions explains, Ryan’s legislative vision “allows the President to continue to bring in as many refugees as he wants from anywhere in the world.” Sessions has explained if Congress wants to halt Obama’s refugee resettlement operation, it must deny the President his funding request.

Presidential candidate and donor-class favorite Marco Rubio has echoed Ryan’s condemnation of Trump and has similarly told Sean Hannity that he’d “hate to use” Congress’ power of the purse to deny Obama the funds he is requesting to continue his refugee resettlement operation.


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