Around three dozen House conservatives are urging GOP leaders to insert language into the bill to keep the government running that would freeze Middle East refugee resettlement programs until better vetting processes are “put in place.”
The group of 37 Republicans want to attach their proposal to a funding bill that lawmakers are still hashing out that would extend 2016 spending levels for a few more months.
They want to put language in the bill that would “prevent federal funds from being using to admit to the United States refugees from Syria, the Middle East and North Africa” until certain conditions are met, they wrote in a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers.
The letter was sent late last week, before the attacks that occurred in New York, New Jersey and Minnesota over the weekend.
This moratorium, they said, would only be lifted once key federal agencies implement procedures that ensure refugee and related programs “are not able to be co-opted by would-be terrorists.” They also demanded that the procedures be provided to Congress in classified and public formats and that the government implement a “longer-term monitoring process” for refugees admitted to the U.S.
Finally, the freeze would only be undone once Congress passes a joint resolution that approves funding to admit refugees from that region again.
They would, however, allow for U.S. funding to cover the safety of refugees overseas, including their food, housing and medical aid.
The group of lawmakers point to the “continuing threat of terrorism” following attacks “by radical Islamic jihadists” in Paris, San Bernardino, Brussels, Nice, Germany, Istanbul and Orlando as the reason for moratorium. They slammed the Obama administration for admitting 10,000 Syrian refugees into the U.S. over the last year.
Their proposal is reminiscent of Donald Trump’s plan to halt immigration from countries that have a history of exporting terrorism or those that have been compromised by terrorism as well as the GOP presidential nominee’s demand for “extreme vetting.”
Lawmakers are still hammering out the details of the spending measure, but they only have two weeks left to avoid a government shutdown on Oct. 1.
Asked if their proposal is being considered, Appropriations Committee spokeswoman Jennifer Hing said, “There is no agreement on the CR as of yet. Details are still being negotiated.”
President Obama met last week with congressional leaders in the House and Senate to discuss spending negotiations. Democrats and the president would almost certainly oppose the freeze on the refugee program.