A bipartisan pair of senators — including one presidential candidate — is pushing forward with an emergency spending bill to help strengthen the administration's ability to combat the Syrian refugee crisis.
Graham, Leahy push for $1B in emergency Syrian refugee funds
Sens. Patrick LeahyPatrick LeahyOvernight Tech: Obama signs FOIA reform bill | Musicians take YouTube fight to Europe | Feds probe first driverless car death Obama signs bill to expand access to federal records Dems leery of Planned Parenthood cuts spark Senate scuffle MORE (D-Vt.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamOvernight Defense: US blames ISIS for Turkey attack | Afghan visas in spending bill | Army rolls up its sleeves Senate panel passes bill that would create 4K visas for Afghans Trump: Rivals who don't back me shouldn't be allowed to run for office MORE (R-S.C.) have rolled out legislation that would provide an extra $1 billion in emergency funding, mandating that the White House tell Congress within 45 days how it will use the money.
Leahy said in a statement that "the disaster in Syria dwarfs anything we have seen for decades, with millions of people uprooted and seeking safety in other countries. It is a humanitarian emergency of staggering proportions, and we need to do more. Our bill would make that possible.”
While the legislation doesn't specify how many Syrian refugees should be accepted into the United States, their funding would allow for the resettlement of up to 100,000 refugees over two years, according to Leahy's office.
The legislation comes as Congress is grappling with how to respond to the crisis and the administration's plan to increase the number of refugees it accepts.
Dozens of Senate Democrats backed a letter from Sen. Chris MurphyChris MurphyReid backs House Puerto Rico bill Meet the man who sparked the Democratic revolt on guns The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (D-Conn.) earlier this week calling for an emergency spending bill. That letter was spent to Leahy and Graham, as well as Sens. Thad CochranThad CochranOvernight Finance: Senate sends Puerto Rico bill to Obama | Treasury, lawmakers to meet on tax rules | Obama hits Trump on NAFTA | Fed approves most banks' capital plans Senate Appropriations speeds through spending bills Week ahead: Senators face unfinished defense work MORE (R-Miss.) and Barbara MikulskiBarbara MikulskiSenate Appropriations speeds through spending bills Clinton ally stands between Sanders and chairmanship dream If 'bipartisanship' is now a dirty word, how about a rebranding? MORE (D-Md.), the top two members on the Appropriations Committee.
But FBI Director James Comey said Thursday that there are "gaps" in the screening process for bringing Syrians into the United States.
“There is risk associated of bringing anybody in from the outside, but specifically from a conflict zone like that,” he told members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.
Graham, who is running for president, quickly came out in support of accepting more Syrian refugees after a photo of a drowned Syrian child went viral and sparked international outrage earlier this year.
His position pits him against not only many of his Republican colleagues, but also other 2016 presidential contenders. Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzThe Trail 2016: Meet and greet and grief Trump to meet with Senate GOP next week Trump camp eyeing Mike Pence for VP: report MORE (R-Texas), who is also running for president, said earlier this week that President Obama's plan to accept additional Syrian refugees was "nothing short of crazy."
The Graham-Leahy bill also requires that Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryCutting corners in a federal campaign is criminal Navy investigation concludes Iran broke international law by detaining sailors Top Democrat wants Obama to block Boeing's deal with Iran MORE describe what security vetting refugees would have to undergo before being accepted into the country.