McConnell calls for 'pause' on refugees to US

McConnell calls for 'pause' on refugees to US
© Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat McConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Brent Budowsky: A plea to Alabama voters MORE (R-Ky.) on Tuesday called for "a pause or a moratorium" on resettling Syrian refugees in the United States.

Republicans on Capitol Hill are coalescing around the position that refugees from Syria should not be allowed into the country until the vetting process is more thoroughly examined, with a vote in the House possible this week.

McConnell said that "the ability to vet people coming from that part of the world is really quite limited."

He pointed to a refugee from Iraq who was resettled in Kentucky and later implicated in a terrorist conspiracy despite being vetted.

“It strikes me that we need a pause or a moratorium because the American people are quite concerned and upset about the possibility of terrorists coming into our country through some type of refugee program,” he said.

He bashed President Obama for lacking a comprehensive strategy for Syria, arguing that refugees will continue to flood out of the country as long as it remains in chaos.

“The president has still not laid out a strategy for dealing with this,” he said. “We’re going to continue to have refugees as long as Syria looks like it does. What we need is a strategy obviously to give the refugees an opportunity to stay in their own country.”

McConnell said the House would likely move first on legislation halting the resettlement program and could pass a stand-alone bill instead of attaching it to an omnibus spending measure.

He said he would negotiate with Obama to explore the possibility of adding a measure addressing refugees to the year-end spending package.

“The speaker and I were talking about this yesterday. We’re talking to the White House. We’ll see what they’re open to,” he said.

More than two dozen governors have said they want to stop Syrian refugees from entering their states, but they have discovered their legal discretion is limited.

McConnell said a few governors have already called him to request federal action.

“Under the law they don’t really have the authority to prevent these refugees from coming into their states,” he said.

More than two dozen governors have said they want to stop Syrian refugees from entering their states, but they have discovered their legal discretion is limited.

McConnell said a few governors have already called him to request federal action.
 
This story was updated at 3:43 p.m.