WASHINGTON – Senate Democrats blocked legislation Wednesday previously passed by the House that would halt the flow of Syrian and Iraqi refugees from entering the country on a 55-43 vote. The bill needed 60 votes to advance to a final vote.
The bill, H.R. 4038, or the American SAFE Act, would have expanded background checks on Syrian and Iraqi refugees. These refugees would be admitted only after the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and the director of national intelligence unanimously cleared them. President Barack Obama vowed to veto the bill if it passed the Senate. The bill was introduced Nov. 19 just days after the Paris terror attacks.
“This bill is just another step in the absolute wrong direction,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told reporters before the vote. “The direction of Donald Trump.”
“I don’t understand why the Republicans in the Senate and the Republican presidential candidates have declared war on these poor refugees,” Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said. “Our war is not with Syrian refugees. Our war is with ISIL.”
“I hate to see the Democratic leader try to trivialize this very important national security debate and discussion by injecting presidential election politics right in the middle of this,” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, said.
Republican presidential candidates Sens. Ted Cruz, Texas, and Marco Rubio, Fla., were present for the vote. Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., was not.
The Obama administration has vowed to bring in 10,000 Syrian refugees this year.
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