Reid 'disgusted' by GOP 'bigotry' toward refugees
© Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidDems open to killing filibuster in next Congress Webb: Questions for Robert Mueller Steyer's impeachment solution is dead wrong MORE (D-Nev.) slammed Republicans on Thursday over a push to pause the administration's plan to increase the number of Syrian refugees accepted into the country in the wake of last week's Paris attacks.

"I've been disgusted in recent days to see some of my Republican colleagues shunning the American tradition of sheltering those fleeing death, torture, rape and oppression. Frankly, I've been disappointed by Republican fear mongering and bigotry," he said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Reid's comments come as the House is expected to vote on legislation Thursday that would block refugees from Syria and Iraq from being settled into the United States unless the administration, including the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, can certify that they aren't a security threat. 

The administration has sent top officials to Capitol Hill in the wake of last week's Paris attacks, including a briefing for all senators on Wednesday evening.

The Democratic leader added that lawmakers can't "repeat the days of the 1930s, when many Americans resolved to turn away refugees fleeing Nazi Germany or innocent Japanese-Americans during World War II."

He also took a veiled swipe at Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who has suggested that the administration should focus on Christians leaving Syria. 

Reid called the idea the "latest in what has become a disturbing pattern of Republican hatred toward Muslims." 

Republicans, and some Democrats, have also suggested that Obama's plan to resettle additional Syrian refugees into the United States should be paused, at least temporarily.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) doubled down on that Thursday morning.

“Given all this and given all that’s happened in Paris, it simply makes sense to take a step back for now — to press pause — so we can determine the facts and ensure we have the correct policies and security screenings in place," he said from the Senate floor.  

The Republican leader added, though, that lawmakers "should also not lose sight of why we are in this position to begin with," including the lack of a "coherent strategy" from the administration to battle the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). 

McConnell's remarks come as Senate Democrats, including Reid and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), are expected to announce legislation later Thursday focused on the visa waiver program. 

The legislation, co-sponsored by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), would block waivers for European citizens who spent time in Syria or Iraq in the past five years.