Senate

Senate rejects Paul’s crackdown on refugees

Greg Nash

Senators on Thursday rejected a push by Sen. Rand Paul to tie a battle over accepting refugees in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks to an ObamaCare repeal bill. 

Senators voted 10-89 on the amendment from the Kentucky Republican, who is running for president. Sixty votes were needed for the amendment to be adopted. 
 
{mosads}Republicans Sens. John Barrasso (Wyo.), Ted Cruz (Texas), Mike Enzi (Wyo.), Mark Kirk (Ill.), Mike Lee (Utah), Jerry Moran (Kan.), Jeff Sessions (Ala.), Richard Shelby (Ala.), David Vitter (La.) and Paul supported the amendment. 
 
Paul’s amendment would place a “pause” on issuing visas to more than 30 countries that the senator said are “at a high risk for exporting terrorists.” 
 
It would also require that individuals from countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program to either wait 30 days before coming to the United States or go through enhanced background and security checks, as well as requiring the government to perform additional screening on any admited refugees.
 
“We spend hundreds of billions of dollars defending our country, and yet we cannot truly defend our country unless we defend our border,” the Kentucky Republican said ahead of the vote. “I would urge senators who truly do want to defend our country to have increased border security by voting for this amendment.” 
 
But Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) slammed Paul’s proposal, saying that it makes us “look like we’re cowering in our shoes.” 
 
“I hate to say this about my good friend from Kentucky, but this is a bumper sticker kind of amendment. It says to keep us secure, it would stop even tourists from visiting this country for at least 30 days.” 
 
Lawmakers have struggled with how to tackle the administration’s plan to increase the number of refugees in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks. 
 
While House Republicans — and dozens of Democrats — backed legislation that would “pause” the acceptance of Syrian and Iraqi refugees until the administration can certify that they aren’t a national security threat, Senate Democrats have vowed to block the legislation in the upper chamber. 
 
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats, along with Republican Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), have introduced legislation aimed at bolstering the Visa Waiver Program, though Republicans are divided on how far changes to the legislation should go. 
Tags David Vitter Jeff Flake Jeff Sessions Jerry Moran John Barrasso Mark Kirk Mike Enzi Mike Lee Patrick Leahy Rand Paul Ted Cruz
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