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WASHINGTON — A Republican senator is making the case in the days after the Paris terrorist attacks that a vote on funding the Syrian refugee resettlement should be included in any government funding bill — essentially raising the threat of a government shutdown in an effort to block the Obama administration’s efforts to accept more Syrian refugees.
Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions sent a letter to his colleagues on Monday, asking them to include a measure that would require a vote on the administration’s refugee plans and funding for resettled Syrian refugees in the spending bill that needs to pass Congress by Dec. 11 to keep the government open.
"Absent a change in the way in which Congress provides funds for refugee admissions, processing, and related matters, this ramp-up will occur despite both public and Congressional opposition," Sessions writes of the plan to accept new refugees, outlining several concerns.
Members of Congress are returning to Washington Monday afternoon for the first time since the Paris attacks, which killed at least 129 people, on Friday. Several Republicans have raised concerns about the administration’s plans to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees in 2016 after it was discovered that one of the suspected attackers entered Europe through Greece with a Syrian passport.
Sessions's letter comes on the same day as House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price released a statement, calling for the suspension of the refugee program.
"It has been confirmed that at least one of the terrorists in Paris used the current refugee system out of Syria as a Trojan horse,” Price said. "We must not allow the United States to experience the same fate and thus must suspend our refugee program until certainty is brought to the vetting process. Common sense must not be trumped by willful ignorance for the sake of dogmatic conformity.”
Newly-elected Speaker Paul Ryan also stressed Monday morning that House Republicans are looking at all options related to dealing with Syrian refugees.
"Look we’ve always been a generous nation in taking in refugees,” Ryan said in a radio interview with Bill Bennett. "But this is a unique situation. This is a situation where you have single men coming over, which is not women and children. What we’re doing is I’ve asked the committees of jurisdiction in the House to come up with recommendations for how we can immediately address this particular situation. So we’re looking at all of our options about how do we make sure that something like this doesn’t happen coming here to us with refugees.”
When pressed if Congress could use the funding measure, Ryan did not rule it out.
"We have a funding at the end of the year bill, so we’re looking at all of our options,” he said. “We’ve got to make sure we’re protecting ourselves.”
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