Republican Rep. Trey GowdyTrey GowdyIntelligence chairman sparks storm with Trump briefing FBI Director Comey hearing a dud for Democrats THE MEMO: Five takeaways from Comey’s big day MORE (S.C.) is hitting back at President Obama, blaming his foreign policy for creating the Syrian refugee crisis.
"The president says we're scared of widows and orphans, with all due respect to him, what I'm afraid of is a foreign policy that creates more widows and orphans," Gowdy said while chairing a hearing Thursday on Obama's refugee program held by his House Judiciary subpanel on immigration.
House Republicans are expected to vote on a bill later Thursday that would halt that program until the administration can provide assurances that none of the refugees admitted pose a security risk to the U.S.
The debate has intensified following last week's Paris terror attacks after reports that one of the attackers may have entered the country by posing as a refugee.
But Obama has blasted Republicans for seeking to halt the program, accusing them of being afraid of "orphans" and suggesting that only allowing Christian refugees would be "shameful." The president has also vowed to veto the GOP bill.
Gowdy is also the chairman of the House Benghazi Committee, a role that has made him a lightning rod for Democratic criticism.
The South Carolina lawmaker on Thursday hammered Obama's foreign policy, saying it allowed the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to gain a foothold.
"So maybe he ought to start is a foreign policy in the Middle East including Syria, where people can go back to their homelands, which is their preference."
"Maybe he ought to defeat that JV team that he thought he had contained," he added, a reference to Obama's earlier statements downplaying the threat from ISIS.
But committee Democrats fired back, accusing Republicans of fear-mongering and discriminating against Muslims.
"We've heard these arguments time and time again in America, and America has always responded to them correctly, by welcoming those to our nation regardless of the faith that they hold, so that they could celebrate that faith," said Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.).
This story was updated at 11:14 a.m.