Following a three-day Republican retreat in Baltimore last week in which the House pitched big ideas and complained about the slow pace of progress in the Senate, senators will return alone to Washington on Tuesday to take up one of the bills their House colleagues passed last November.
The Senate will vote Tuesday night to open debate on a House-passed bill limiting the immigration of Syrian refugees to the United States, amid simmering concerns about the threat of potential terror attacks.
The bill, which passed the House in November on a veto-proof vote of 289-137, came on the heels of the terror attack in Paris, in which at least one Syrian refugee stands accused, but before the attacks in San Bernardino, California, that killed 14 in early December.
But although the bill garnered the support of 47 Democrats in the House, it faces a filibuster threat from the minority party in the Senate. At least six Democrats would be needed to advance the legislation, along with all 55 Republicans. (In the House, just two Republicans, including Rep. Steve King of Iowa, who said the measure did not go far enough, opposed the bill last November.)
The American SAFE Act, as the House dubbed the legislation, would require both the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security to run background checks certifying that any refugee from Syria or Iraq—or those who have visited either country since March 2011—is not “a threat to the security of the United States” before entering the country. The Obama administration, which opposes the measure, has said that the level of screenings Congress is asking for, particularly in the case of Syrian refugees, would be nearly impossible to conduct.