The rapidly-escalating political fight over resettling Syrian refugees has already reached the halls of Congress, where senior Republicans want to use a critical government-funding bill to force President Obama’s hand.
GOP lawmakers are reacting in predictable fashion to reports that at least one of the terrorists involved in the Paris attacks had slipped into the country with refugees fleeing the chaos in Syria. Fearing a similar plot in the U.S., more than a dozen governors (including one Democrat) quickly demanded that the Obama administration keep refugees out of their states. But the real battle may be fought on Capitol Hill over the next several weeks, with an aggressive Republican push that could result in a government shutdown.
The White House and congressional leaders are now negotiating an enormous omnibus spending bill that will appropriate funds for the next 10 months according to the budget agreement that passed in October. That legislation—or another temporary measure—must pass by December 11, when current funding expires. Senator Jeff Sessions, an immigration hard-liner from Alabama, on Monday sent a letter calling for more restrictions on the administration’s plan to admit more than 10,000 Syrian refugees into the U.S. over the next year, including a separate vote by Congress—which would never pass in the current political climate. “It is not sound policy to encourage millions to permanently abandon their homes,” Sessions wrote. “We have resettled 1.5 million migrants from Muslim nations in the United States since 9/11, and it clearly has not contributed to the stabilization of unstable regions.”