Schumer: Refugee pause may be necessary
© Greg Nash

Sen. Charles SchumerCharles SchumerCruz: 'Schumer and the Democrats want a shutdown' GOP fundraiser enters crowded primary for Pa. Senate seat Dems: Trump risks government shutdown over border wall 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 ReidDraft House bill ignites new Yucca Mountain fight Week ahead: House to revive Yucca Mountain fight Warren builds her brand with 2020 down the road MORE (Nev.) retires.

A spokeswoman for Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanThe Hill's Whip List: Who to watch on GOP's new ObamaCare bill GOP takes step forward on ObamaCare replacement, but centrists elusive GOP leaders, top tax writers: Trump principles will be 'critical guideposts' MORE (R-Wis.) highlighted Schumer’s statement as an example of “bipartisan concern” over refugees.

Centrist Democratic Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinSenators push 'cost-effective' reg reform Congress nears deal on help for miners Senate votes to confirm Rosenstein as deputy attorney general 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 DurbinDick DurbinRob Thomas: Anti-Trump celebs have become 'white noise' Overnight Energy: Lawmakers work toward deal on miners’ benefits Senate votes to confirm Rosenstein as deputy attorney general 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.