Schumer: Refugee pause may be necessary
© Greg Nash

Sen. Charles SchumerChuck Schumer84 mayors call for immigration to be included in reconciliation Senate infrastructure talks on shaky grounds Could Andrew Cuomo — despite scandals — be re-elected because of Trump? MORE (N.Y.), the third ranking member of the Senate Democratic leadership, on Tuesday said it may be necessary to halt the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States.

Republicans immediately seized on Schumer’s comment, which breaks with other Democrats who have argued against halting the program.

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Schumer, however, declined to take the option off the table ahead of a special briefing scheduled for Wednesday afternoon on the process that is now used to vet refugees entering the United States.

“We’re waiting for the briefing tomorrow, a pause may be necessary. We’re going to look at it,” he said.

Schumer is widely expected to become leader of Senate Democrats in the next Congress, after Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidWarner backing 'small carve-out' on filibuster for voting rights Senate hopefuls embrace nuking filibuster Biden fails to break GOP 'fever' MORE (Nev.) retires.

A spokeswoman for Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanRealClearPolitics reporter says Freedom Caucus shows how much GOP changed under Trump Juan Williams: Biden's child tax credit is a game-changer Trump clash ahead: Ron DeSantis positions himself as GOP's future in a direct-mail piece MORE (R-Wis.) highlighted Schumer’s statement as an example of “bipartisan concern” over refugees.

Centrist Democratic Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinOvernight Energy: Manchin grills Haaland over Biden oil and gas review | Biden admin reportedly aims for 40 percent of drivers using EVs by 2030 |  Lack of DOD action may have caused 'preventable' PFAS risks Manchin grills Haaland over Biden oil and gas moratorium Feehery: It's time for Senate Republicans to play hardball on infrastructure MORE (W.Va.) signed a letter to President Obama Monday calling on him not to allow another Syrian refugee into the country unless federal authorities can guarantee with 100-percent assurance they are not connected to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Other Democrats have rejected freezing Obama’s plan to resettle at least 10,000 Syrian refugees in the current fiscal year.

Senate Democratic Whip Dick DurbinDick DurbinBiden officials pledge to confront cybersecurity challenges head-on Senators scramble to save infrastructure deal Senate Democrats press administration on human rights abuses in Philippines MORE (D-Ill.) said halting the program “is a simplistic reaction to a very complicated challenge.”

“Background checks need to be redoubled in terms of refugees but if we’re talking about threats to the United States, let’s put this in perspective,” he said.

Durbin noted that each year 70,000 refugees from around the world are resettled in the United States after two years of vetting while millions of foreign visitors enter the United States as visitors.

“Let us not just single out the refugees as the potential source of danger in the United States,” he said.  

Jordain Carney contributed.