WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican lawmakers said on Monday they will try to use must-pass government spending legislation to block President Barack Obama’s plans to increase the flow of Syrian refugees into the U.S.
Several said the nation’s refugee program should be suspended entirely following the deadly terror attacks Friday in Paris, in which one perpetrator is believed to have been a Syrian refugee. The White House earlier this year announced plans to accept an additional 10,000 refugees from Syria, and administration officials said that would continue despite the events in Paris.
Congress is facing a Dec. 11 deadline to approve a package of annual spending bills to keep the government running. Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama was among those suggesting Monday that the legislation should include provisions requiring congressional approval of increasing the number of refugees and funding, which could otherwise happen without Congress’ say-so.
“The barbaric attacks in Paris — an assault on civilization itself — add immense new urgency,” Sessions said in a letter to the leaders of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Absent congressional action, “The United States will begin resettling tens of thousands of poorly vetted Syrian refugees who will eventually be able to bring in their relatives,” Sessions wrote.
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A number of House Republicans issued similar calls, including Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price of Georgia, who said the U.S. “must suspend our refugee program until certainty is brought to the vetting process.”
With the federal funding deadline less than a month away, adding any contentious policy fight to the bill raises the prospect of a partial government shutdown.
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But new House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin did not rule out such an approach in an interview on Monday with conservative talk host Bill Bennett.
“We’re looking at all of our options about how do we make sure that something like this doesn’t happen coming here to us with refugees,” Ryan said.