The White House on Wednesday threatened to veto a House bill that would require additional security checks on Syrian refugees before they could be resettled in the United States.
“This legislation would introduce unnecessary and impractical requirements that would unacceptably hamper our efforts to assist some of the most vulnerable people in the world, many of whom are victims of terrorism,” the Office of Management and Budget said in a statement.
President Obama has engaged in a war of words with Republicans over allowing Syrian refugees entry into the country.
Republicans in the House and Senate have argued that in the wake of last week’s terrorist attacks on Paris, there should be a “pause.” The House is set to vote on legislation Thursday that would block any refugees from Syria or Iraq from being resettled in the U.S. unless the FBI, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Director of National Intelligence can certify to Congress that each person does not pose a security threat.
In its veto threat, the White House said the House bill “is untenable and would provide no meaningful additional security for the American people, instead serving only to create significant delays and obstacles” for people fleeing the conflict in Syria.”
The veto threat was expected, given that President Obama has shown no signs of backing down from his plan to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees in the next year.
The House measure, sponsored by Reps. Mike McCaul (R-Texas) and Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), is a direct response to the attacks on Paris which left at least 129 people dead and hundreds more injured.
One of the assailants reportedly entered Europe through Greece posing as a Syrian refugee, raising concerns that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), could similarly infiltrate the United States.
“First, they were worried about the press being too tough on them during debates. Now they’re worried about three-year-old orphans. That doesn’t sound very tough to me,” Obama told reporters in the Philippines, an apparent shot at New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) belief that not even young Syrian children should be allowed into the country.
Congressional Democratic leaders fear the bill would effectively end the refugee program by establishing barriers that are too strict. But the measure could gain traction among some Democrats who are facing public pressure to clamp down on the refugee program.
Democratic leaders in the House are not whipping the vote, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) told The Hill.
The bill is expected to pass the GOP-controlled House. But if enough Democratic opposition materializes, it could raise the chances that Democrats could filibuster the measure in the Senate and block it from reaching Obama’s desk.
Obama teed off on GOP presidential candidates in biting terms on Wednesday for saying the Paris terror attacks should cause the U.S. to pause admission of refugees fleeing Syria.
“People understand the plight of those fleeing the Middle East. But they also want basic assurances for the safety of this country,” Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said in a floor speech Wednesday. “We can be compassionate and we can also be safe.”
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