Sen. John McCainJohn McCainOvernight Finance: Puerto Rico bill clears panel | IRS chief vows to finish term | Bill would require nominees to release tax returns Overnight Defense: Pentagon chief fears sequestration's return Groups urge Senate to oppose defense language on for-profit colleges MORE (R-Ariz.) on Tuesday suggested the battle over the administration's Syrian refugee plan should be separate from a fight over how to fund the government.
"I don't want to shut down the government," McCain said in response to a question on whether he would support including a provision on the refugees in an "omnibus" spending bill. "Shouldn't we be able to sit down and agree on something without threatening to shut down the government, for god's sake?"
McCain's remarks come after some of his Republican colleagues called on the Appropriations Committee to block any funding for resettling Syrian refugees into the United States as part of a government funding bill. Lawmakers have until mid-December to fund the government and avoid a shutdown.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) sent a letter to his colleagues Monday calling for the Appropriations Committee to include a provision in spending legislation that would require Congress to approve a plan on refugee resettlement.
Separately, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said that "not one dollar should be expended until stringent parameters for vetting these refugees are established."
The House is expected to vote this week on legislation that would pause the administration's plan to increase the number of Syrian refugees accepted into the country.
Asked whether a "pause" on the refugees program could be linked to a fight on government spending, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters: "[House Speaker Paul Ryan] and I were talking about this yesterday. We're talking to the White House. We'll see what they're open to. You know, there's certainly a possibility it could become part of legislation. I understand that the House may vote on a free-standing measure."
McCain, like McConnell, has voiced support for temporarily suspending the refugee program over national security concerns.
The Arizona Republican suggested the Obama administration's policies were to blame for the violence in Syria which has displaced millions, adding that "there would have been no refugees if he had listened to me and Lindsey Graham."