The House of Representatives has approved legislation to prevent many Syrian and Iraqi refugees from entering the United States.
An overwhelming majority of 289-137 passed the bill to suspend refugee admissions, with 47 Democrats and all but two Republicans voting in favor of it, ABC reports. Since more than two thirds of the House supported it, legislators have more than enough backing to override a veto from President Barack Obama.
After the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris killed 129 people, Iraqi and Syrian refugee admission has become a hotbed issue. Many fear the possibility of terrorists posing as refugees entering and subsequently attacking western countries.
House Speaker Paul Ryan said earlier that legislation to "pause" welcoming Syrian refugees was "an urgent matter" of national safety, notes CNBC.
"We must remember that our first priority is to protect the American people," Ryan added.
The measure requires the FBI to perform background checks on Syrian and Iraqi refugees, and the head of the FBI, the Homeland Security Department and the director of national intelligence would all have to certify that each refugee does not pose a threat to national security.
However, this will take a serious amount of time and resources, which could indefinitely delay admission to the proposed 10,000 refugees, something with which many Democrats are uncomfortable.
"Defeating terrorism should not mean slamming the door in the faces of those fleeing the terrorists," Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York said, according to ABC. "We might as well take down the Statue of Liberty."
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California strongly disagreed.
"It is against the values of our nation and the values of a free society to give terrorists the opening they are looking for" by not restricting entry, he said.
In a time when some Republican presidential candidates like Jeb Bush have urged the government to only allow Christian refugees who can "prove" their religious affiliation, the White House argued that, instead of improving national security, the policy will turn its back on "some of the most vulnerable people in the world, many of whom are victims of terrorism, and would undermine our partners in the Middle East and Europe in addressing the Syrian refugee crisis," notes MSNBC and ABC.