Senate Democrats on Wednesday blocked legislation from the House that would crack down on the resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees in the United States.

The 55-43 vote came after Senate Minority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidGOP Senate confirms Trump Supreme Court pick to succeed Ginsburg Democratic Senate emerges as possible hurdle for progressives  Harry Reid: Biden should give GOP three weeks to see if they will work with him MORE (D-Nev.) sought approval of a handful of amendments, including one on Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump admin to announce coronavirus vaccine will be covered under Medicare, Medicaid: report Election officials say they're getting suspicious emails that may be part of malicious attack on voting: report McConnell tees up Trump judicial pick following Supreme Court vote MORE's push to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the country.

ADVERTISEMENT

Republicans ripped the attempt to link the bill to the GOP presidential candidate. Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynTrump leads Biden in Texas by 4 points: poll President Trump: To know him is to 'No' him Dallas Morning News poll shows Biden leading Trump in Texas MORE (R-Texas) called the effort “ridiculous” and said Democrats were trivializing the refugee issue “by bringing the circus to town on the floor of the Senate.”

"I hate to see the Democratic leader try to trivialize this very important national security debate and discussion by injecting presidential election politics right in the middle of this," Cornyn said.

Democrats fired back, suggesting GOP leaders rejected Reid's deal because they were afraid of taking on their party’s presidential front-runner.

"When we offer them a chance to vote on another statement by Republican presidential nominee Mr. Trump ... they run like scalded cats," Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDemocrats warn GOP will regret Barrett confirmation Democrats brace for nail-biting finish to Senate battle Democratic Senate emerges as possible hurdle for progressives  MORE (D-Ill.) said. 

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersObama book excerpt: 'Hard to deny my overconfidence' during early health care discussions Americans have a choice: Socialized medicine or health care freedom Ocasio-Cortez says Democrats must focus on winning White House for Biden MORE (I-Vt.), who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, missed the vote, as did Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP Senate confirms Trump Supreme Court pick to succeed Ginsburg Murkowski predicts Barrett won't overturn Roe v. Wade Biden seeks to close any path for Trump win in race's final days MORE (R-S.C.).

The refugee legislation, which passed the House late last year, would "pause" the resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees in the U.S. until the Obama administration certifies that they aren't a national security threat. Sixty votes were needed to move forward.

President Obama has threatened to veto the bill if it reaches his desk.

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanMcCarthy faces pushback from anxious Republicans over interview comments Pelosi and Trump go a full year without speaking Jordan vows to back McCarthy as leader even if House loses more GOP seats MORE (R-Wis.) slammed Senate Democrats, calling their decision to block the legislation "irresponsible."

"Our approach balances security and compassion, and it was backed by a veto-proof majority in the House," he said.

Fighting over refugee resettlement has intensified amid rising fears about the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Some worry the terrorist group could use the program to slip fighters into the U.S. and carry out attacks on American soil like the carnage the group unleashed in Paris last year. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellMcConnell tees up Trump judicial pick following Supreme Court vote Democrats warn GOP will regret Barrett confirmation GOP Senate confirms Trump Supreme Court pick to succeed Ginsburg MORE (R-Ky.) had suggested that senators shouldn't put a limit on amendments to the refugee legislation and that the onus was on Democrats to allow the votes.

"A better way to go forward would be to go to the bill, have an open amendment process, alternate from side to side. Senators should vote to go to the legislation," McConnell told reporters. 

But Durbin said McConnell's counteroffer wouldn’t guarantee the amendment votes Democrats were seeking.

"Sen. McConnell is a pro and is experienced, and he knows that any single senator could object to going to a roll call vote on any amendment," Durbin said.

Reid called the bill "just another step in the absolute wrong direction, the direction of Donald Trump." 

Republican senators had planned to offer amendments to the bill that would give governors the ability to reject refugees and require the Obama administration to include social media in refugee background checks.

GOP senators were also planning to try to make Democrats take politically sensitive votes.

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzGOP clears key hurdle on Barrett's Supreme Court nomination, setting up Monday confirmation Texas and North Carolina: Democrats on the verge? Senate GOP to drop documentary series days before election hitting China, Democrats over coronavirus MORE (R-Texas), who is running for president, said that he was planning to offer an amendment that would increase jail time for undocumented immigrants who reenter the country illegally. 

Known as "Kate's Law," the legislation is named after Kathryn Steinle, who was shot and killed in San Francisco. The suspect in her slaying is an illegal immigrant who had been deported five times. 

Even if Democrats had allowed Republicans to add the provisions, they could have blocked McConnell from ending debate on the bill.

The House legislation has underscored divisions among Senate Republicans over how to make the refugee resettlement process more secure.  

Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeOne of life's great mysteries: Why would any conservative vote for Biden? Trump excoriates Sasse over leaked audio Biden holds 8-point lead over Trump in Arizona: poll MORE (R-Ariz.) said that while he doesn't support a "pause" of refugee acceptance, he backs moving forward with the legislation so that he could try to amend it.  

"I'm not a fan of this approach," Flake told reporters, adding that he planned to offer amendments to loosen new visa restrictions for dual nationals that were included in last months' government spending bill. 

Some conservative Republicans, on the other hand, argue the refugee bill doesn’t go far enough. 

Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsBiden fact checks Trump on 545 families separated at border, calls policy 'criminal' Harris walks fine line on Barrett as election nears The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump's erratic tweets upend stimulus talks; COVID-19 spreads in White House MORE (R-Ala.) suggested late last year that the House bill would allow Obama to bring in as many refugees as he wants, adding that it "fails to defend" American interests. 

Updated at 5:31 p.m.