Senate heads toward fight over refugee 'pause'

Senate heads toward fight over refugee 'pause'
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate passes 0B defense bill Overnight Health Care: New GOP ObamaCare repeal bill gains momentum Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea 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 CornynNew GOP ObamaCare repeal bill gains momentum Week ahead: Senators near deal to stabilize ObamaCare markets GOP eying 'blue slip' break to help Trump fill the courts 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 DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions Senate passes 0B defense bill 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.