Paul Ryan Moves Forward on Syria Refugee Strategy

by Elaina Plott

Amid the rising chorus of Republican lawmakers demanding a moratorium on the program, Speaker Paul Ryan is seeking legislation this week to take action on President Obama’s Syrian refugee resettlement initiative. 

In a closed-door conference of House Republicans early Tuesday morning, Ryan said that the U.S. should take in no refugees unless “we are 100% they won’t do us harm,” per a source inside the room. Kevin McCarthy announced the assembly of a task force of committee chairmen of jurisdiction, including Homeland Security, Armed Services, Judiciary, Intelligence, Appropriations, and Foreign Affairs to craft legislation, ideally to be presented this week. According to Armed Services member Bradley Byrne (R-Al.), that proposal will likely come to the table on Thursday, when Republicans are scheduled to meet as a conference once more. 

For Ryan, it’s a sharper stance than the one he’s voiced thus far; on Monday, speaking with radio talk-show host Bill Bennett, he permitted only that the crisis presented a “unique situation,” sparking calls from GOP presidential candidates such as Mike Huckabee and Ben Carson to commit to defunding the program. 

The Syrian refugee program has captivated the House agenda this week, and takes on a particular prescience as the specter of a government shutdown looms. Key Republican lawmakers will fight to strip the program’s funding from the upcoming spending bill, and the president said in a press conference yesterday that he refuses to budge, priming the landscape for a likely battle. 

In an interview with National Review on Monday, Armed Services member Mo Brooks called Obama’s hard-line stance on funding the program, in light of Friday’s brutal massacres, “masochistic.”

In September, Obama revamped the program to allow up to 10,000 Syrian refugees to enter the U.S. in the next fiscal year. The outcry among lawmakers was spearheaded by reports that one of the terrorists in the Paris attacks on Friday was a Syrian refugee, who had traveled by way of Greece.

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