House Approves Bill That Would Require Stricter Refugee Screening

Syrian Refugees

On Nov. 20, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would stop Syrian and Iraqi refugees from entering the United States until key national security agencies can guarantee they do not pose a security risk.

The bill passed in a 289-137 vote, with 47 Democrats joining 242 Republicans in favor of the bill. The amount of support for the bill creates a majority that could override a veto from President Barack Obama, CNN reports.

Obama has said that he will veto the legislation should it pass the Senate and make it to his desk.

"We are not well served when, in response to a terrorist attack, we descend into fear and panic,” Obama said on Nov. 19 while in the Philippines. "We don't make good decisions if it's based on hysteria or an exaggeration of risks."

Newly appointed House Speaker Republican Paul Ryan is baffled at Obama’s veto threat, “especially given the fact that his own law enforcement top officials came to Congress and testified that there are gaps in this refugee program."

Ryan finds the need for stricter national security procedures on refugees an urgent matter.

"We cannot and should not wait to act, not when our national security is at stake,” Ryan said.

Under the new legislation, the director of the F.B.I., the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, and the director of National Intelligence would have to confirm that each applicant from Syria and Iraq poses no threat, The New York Times reports.

Obama reached out to his 5.1 million Twitter followers on Nov. 20, reiterating his promise to accept at least 10,000 refugees from Syria.

“Slamming the door in the face of refugees would betray our deepest values,” Obama tweeted. “That’s not who we are. And it’s not what we’re going to do.”

Democratic Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada does not see the bill passing the Senate.

“Don’t worry, it won’t get passed,” Reid said, according to The New York Times.

Sources: CNN, The New York Times / Photo Source: Freedom House/Flickr

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