Senate heads toward fight over refugee 'pause'

Senate heads toward fight over refugee 'pause'
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellThe Memo: Winners and losers from the battle over healthcare GOP senators pitch alternatives after House pulls ObamaCare repeal bill Under pressure, Dems hold back Gorsuch support MORE (R-Ky.) has teed up a procedural vote on legislation halting the acceptance of Syrian and Iraqi refugees until authorities can verify that terrorists are not trying to infiltrate the program.

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McConnell's action on Tuesday means the Senate will take an initial vote on the legislation, already approved by the House, on Jan. 20. Sixty votes will be needed to move forward. 
Sen. John CornynJohn CornynGOP senators pitch alternatives after House pulls ObamaCare repeal bill Rand Paul takes victory lap on GOP health bill Senators push Trump on defense deals with India MORE (R-Texas) suggested earlier in the day that the Senate could vote on the House-passed bill, telling reporters that it "sounds like that's a good prospect." 
 
McConnell had long promised to consider legislation on the refugee acceptance program during the first quarter of 2016, though it was unclear if the he would take up the House bill or move a separate piece of Senate legislation. 
 
Then the Department of Justice announced late last week that it had arrested two Iraqi-born Palestinians, who had entered the country as refugees, on terrorism-related charges. 
 
Republicans in both chambers quickly galvanized off the arrests, trying to build pressure on the Senate to take up a myriad of proposals. 
 
 
Meanwhile, House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) — who spearheaded the House bill — said the Senate should take up his measure and not allow "more potential jihadists to slip through the cracks."
 
The House bill could face an uphill battle in the Senate, where Democrats have repeatedly pledged to block it. 
 
Asked last month about McConnell's pledge to bring up a refugee bill, Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinThe Hill’s Whip List: Where Dems stand on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Gorsuch rewrites playbook for confirmation hearings Gorsuch: I'm 'sorry' for ruling against autistic student MORE (D-Ill.) said he believes they'll be able to block Republicans from getting the six Democrats they'll need to move forward on the House legislation. 
 
“It doesn’t stand up to reason that we’re focusing on 70,000 people that are vetted for two years,” he told The Hill at the time.