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House Bill Drafted to Enhance Vetting of Refugees

CQ Roll Call File Photo
CQ Roll Call File Photo

The House will vote Thursday to enhance oversight of the screening process for refugees from Syria and Iraq, but it will not consider legislation to “pause” the program sought by Speaker Paul D. Ryan.  

Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., told reporters a post-Paris attacks task force has crafted a bill to create “a new certification process” for these refugees. It will be posted online later tonight and go before the Rules Committee Wednesday.  

“It’s very short and simple and puts a new vetting process in place just so we can be sure that we know what we’re dealing with,” Nunes said. “We don’t actually define how the certification process would have to work. We just talk about who has to certify it.”  

Nunes did not specify where oversight of the certification process would be directed.  

Ryan earlier Tuesday said he believes the Syrian refugee situation “requires a pause and a more comprehensive assessment” to ensure members of the Islamic State terror group, known as ISIS, don’t infiltrate the migrant population.  

Currently, the State Department is the lead agency for these refugees. It receives referrals from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and then shares them with the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services. The FBI and Department of Defense run refugee names through various terrorism and crime databases.  

The proposed bill does not include any language to halt the refugee program, Nunes said, but “it would cause a pause in that it would take time” to implement.  

Although the measure does not go as far as many members have called for, Nunes said he expects it to have enough support to pass. “I wouldn’t want to vote against what this is if I were a member of Congress,” he said.  

The Judiciary Committee is looking at a longer, more comprehensive fix, Nunes added.  

Rachel Oswald contributed to this report. 

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