House Republicans pushed forward on Thursday with efforts to attach a measure limiting refugee resettlement to a $1 trillion end-of-the-year spending bill that must be approved by Dec. 11 to keep the government from shutting down, Reuters reported. Republicans said on Wednesday the refugee measure has now become a priority in the government spending talks, as well as in legislation to crack down on a program allowing foreigners from 38 countries to travel into the United States without visas.
The new measure would deny visa waivers to those who traveled to Iraq and Syria within five years and require passports outfitted with data chips that would be difficult to forge.
House Minority Leader Nanci Pelosi slammed the Republican effort to hamstring Syrian and Iraqi refugees’ entry to the U.S. in an interview with Reuters, but Rep. Matt Salmon, R-Ariz., said the Republicans are in a strong negotiating position after legislation freezing Syrian refugee resettlement won bipartisan support and passed the House in November.
House Republicans held a closed-door meeting Thursday, and said afterward there was strong support for the proposal.
“Pelosi can bluff and bluster all she wants, but I think we’re on solid ground here,” Salmon said.
The White House would not confirm this week whether President Barack Obama would veto a spending bill that included the refugee measure, but said he was opposed to the provision, the Wall Street Journal reported.
“Congressional Republicans are whistling past the political graveyard of a government shutdown,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said. “The effort that they’re engaged in now is to lard the bill up with ideological riders.”
Rep. Brian Babin, R-Texas, is heading the Republican effort to attach refugee measures to the spending bill. “If the president is willing to shut our government down over this foolish, insane program to bring in potential jihad, and radical Islamic terrorists into this country, then that’s his business,” he told the Hill.