Schumer: Refugee pause may be necessary
© Greg Nash

Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerReforms can stop members of Congress from using their public office for private gain Election Countdown: GOP worries House majority endangered by top of ticket | Dems make history in Tuesday's primaries | Parties fight for Puerto Rican vote in Florida | GOP lawmakers plan 'Freedom Tour' Senate Democrats should stop playing politics on Kavanaugh MORE (N.Y.), the third ranking member of the Senate Democratic leadership, on Tuesday said it may be necessary to halt the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States.

Republicans immediately seized on Schumer’s comment, which breaks with other Democrats who have argued against halting the program.

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Schumer, however, declined to take the option off the table ahead of a special briefing scheduled for Wednesday afternoon on the process that is now used to vet refugees entering the United States.

“We’re waiting for the briefing tomorrow, a pause may be necessary. We’re going to look at it,” he said.

Schumer is widely expected to become leader of Senate Democrats in the next Congress, after Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidGOP’s midterm strategy takes shape Battle of the billionaires drives Nevada contest Senate Democrats should stop playing politics on Kavanaugh MORE (Nev.) retires.

A spokeswoman for Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanGOP super PAC hits Dem House hopeful as 'Pelosi liberal' in new Kansas ad Trump revokes Brennan's security clearance The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (R-Wis.) highlighted Schumer’s statement as an example of “bipartisan concern” over refugees.

Centrist Democratic Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSchumer to meet with Kavanaugh on Tuesday Supreme Court nomination reignites abortion fights in states Kavanaugh has 'productive' meeting with key swing votes MORE (W.Va.) signed a letter to President Obama Monday calling on him not to allow another Syrian refugee into the country unless federal authorities can guarantee with 100-percent assurance they are not connected to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Other Democrats have rejected freezing Obama’s plan to resettle at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in the current fiscal year.

Senate Democratic Whip Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinGOP leader criticizes Republican senators for not showing up to work Dems seize on Kavanaugh emails to question role in terrorism response Trump gives thumbs up to prison sentencing reform bill at pivotal meeting MORE (D-Ill.) said halting the program “is a simplistic reaction to a very complicated challenge.”

“Background checks need to be redoubled in terms of refugees but if we’re talking about threats to the United States, let’s put this in perspective,” he said.

Durbin noted that each year 70,000 refugees from around the world are resettled in the United States after two years of vetting while millions of foreign visitors enter the United States as visitors.

“Let us not just single out the refugees as the potential source of danger in the United States,” he said.  

Jordain Carney contributed.