GOP Lawmakers Unveil Plan to Defund Refugee Program, ‘Keep Terrorists Out’

Refugees and migrants wait for free blankets and raincoats before disembarking from a government chartered ferry 'El Venizelos' in the port of Piraeus near Athens on December 10, 2015. More than 4000 refugees arrived to the port from the Greek islands of Lesbos and Chios with the majority of them …
Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images

A group of Republican House members have introduced legislation that would temporarily suspend the refugee resettlement program by blocking its funding.

“Our bill is simple: no more refugee admittance until we can strengthen the system and better ensure the safety of Americans,” Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) one of the bill’s co-sponsors, said in a statement. “For this administration to force foreign refugees on American communities at this time ignores the very real security threats we face.”

Despite the recent radical Islamic terrorist attacks in San Bernardino and Paris as well as vulnerabilities in the refugee vetting system voiced by top officials, the Obama administration has continued to move forward with plans to resettle at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in the U.S. this fiscal year.

Thursday, Smith, Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Lou Barletta (R-PA), and Scott DesJarlais (R-TN) introduced a bill that would stop the President’s plan.

“The attack in California demonstrated once again that there are radical Islamic terrorists whose main goal in life is to kill Americans,” Barletta said. “While the United States has always been a nation that welcomes people seeking refuge, it is only prudent to suspend our refugee program until we know exactly who we are letting in.”

According to their offices, the foursome’s bill would block funding for refugee resettlement until:

– Congress passes a joint resolution approving the President’s refugee resettlement plan
– [Congressional Budget Office] provides a report to Congress scoring the long term cost of refugee resettlement operations
– [Department of Homeland Security] submits a report to Congress identifying terrorist and criminal activity of refugees admitted into the U.S. since 2001
– The President submits a report to Congress of the prior year’s cost of admitting refugees and proposes offsetting spending cuts to pay for resettlement

The House is expected to unveil its final year end spending bill early next week. In the midst of national security concerns conservative Republicans have pushed for the legislation to also block funding for the refugee program.

“President Obama’s plan to admit thousands of additional Syrian refugees into this country at a time of heightened jihadist threats and the San Bernardino massacre is beyond reckless,” Blackburn said. “It endangers our national security and costs hard working taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, which is why an omnibus funding bill should not include a blank check for refugee resettlement.”

Added DesJarlais, “President Obama’s own administration has publicly admitted that under the current framework, Syrian refugees cannot be vetted in a way that meets the rigorous security standards we rightfully expect. Therefore, it is critical we halt the refugee program until Congress is satisfied any individual admitted will not pose a security risk now or in the future.”


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