House Republicans Seek to Cut Off Funding for Syrian Resettlement Program

The growing momentum behind new legislation, still being drafted, sets up a future clash between the White House and Congress.

John Hudson reports: Following the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris, House Republicans are proposing to block federal funding for resettling Syrian refugees until a series of new conditions are met, Foreign Policy has learned.

 “Currently, 60 million people worldwide have been forced from their homes or are otherwise considered refugees — higher than at any other time in recorded history.”

The growing momentum behind new legislation, still being drafted, sets up a future clash between the White House and Congress as the Obama administration seeks to offer residency to 10,000 Syrian refugees who currently live outside the conflict zone. Currently, 60 million people worldwide have been forced from their homes or are otherwise considered refugees — higher than at any other time in recorded history. An estimated six million to eight million displaced people are still in Syria, and more than four million Syrian refugees are in Jordan, Turkey, and Lebanon.

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“The 15 Republican lawmakers pushing the legislation aren’t the only politicians looking to slam the brakes on Obama’s resettlement program. The governors of 15 U.S. states have already said they would not allow Syrian refugees to live in their states.”

The draft legislation, a copy of which was obtained by FP, is backed by Reps. Brian Babin, Lou Barletta, Diane Black, Mo Brooks, Jeff Duncan, John Duncan, Blake Farenthold, Louie Gohmert, Frank Guinta, Gregg Harper, Walter Jones, Steve King, Mike Pompeo, Mark Meadows, and Bill Posey. It would prevent funding for the resettlement of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa until authorities adopt “processes to ensure that refugee and related programs are not able to be co-opted by would-be terrorists.” Once those processes are in place, details of the security checks must be given to Congress in both classified and public forums, and the administration must establish a “longer-term monitoring process” to track refugees in the U.S.

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“Additionally, House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul plans to raise the issue of blocking Syrian refugee resettlement at a Tuesday meeting with fellow Republicans, according to two congressional sources.”

The 15 Republican lawmakers pushing the legislation aren’t the only politicians looking to slam the brakes on Obama’s resettlement program. The governors of 15 U.S. states have already said they would not allow Syrian refugees to live in their states. Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions (R) has proposed legislation to restrict U.S. funding for refugee resettlement and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul (R) has said he will introduce legislation to prevent Syrian refugees from obtaining U.S. visas. Read the rest of this entry »


Boehner Survives Revolt, GOP Begins 2015 With Anti-Conservative, Weakened Leadership

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WASHINGTON—House Republicans re-elected John Boehner (R., Ohio) for a third term as House speaker on Tuesday over the objections of a band of frustrated conservatives lobbying for a new leader.

Senior Republicans expressed some frustration that internal GOP dissent was grabbing the headlines on the first day of the 114th Congress.

Mr. Boehner, 65 years old, faced more opposition from his party’s right flank than in years past, but not enough to oust him from the House’s top post. After being selected among House Republicans for the post in November, he was officially re-elected in a floor roll-call vote, as the new Congress—now fully controlled by Republicans—convened on Tuesday.

Conservatives defecting from Mr. Boehner said they objected to how he ran the House, faulting him for hashing out too many deals behind closed doors and not giving lawmakers enough time to read legislation before voting.

Even some of the most conservative House Republicans voted for Mr. Boehner, citing the party’s victories in last fall’s midterm election that gave the GOP control of the Senate and expanded the House’s Republican majority.

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Members of the House of Representatives at the opening session of the 114th Congress in Washington on Tuesday. Associated Press

“I’ve had my differences with the speaker, but I plan to support him,” Rep. John Fleming (R., La.) said before the vote. “He led us through a period where we’ve increased our majority, substantially.”

In November’s midterm election, House Republicans won 247 seats, their largest majority in decades. After the resignation of Rep. Michael Grimm (R., N.Y.), effective Monday, Republicans control 246 of the chamber’s 435 seats. Read the rest of this entry »