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 ReidBottom line Bottom line Senate roadblocks threaten to box in Biden MORE (D-Nev.) sought approval of a handful of amendments, including one on Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden team wants to understand Trump effort to 'hollow out government agencies' Trump's remaking of the judicial system Overnight Defense: Trump transgender ban 'inflicts concrete harms,' study says | China objects to US admiral's Taiwan visit 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 CornynCornyn says election outcome 'becoming increasingly clear': report Top GOP senator: Biden should be getting intel briefings GOP senator congratulates Biden, says Trump should accept results 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 DurbinDick DurbinDurbin seeks to become top-ranking Democrat on Judiciary panel Feinstein to step down as top Democrat on Judiciary Committee Democrats face increasing pressure to back smaller COVID-19 stimulus MORE (D-Ill.) said. 

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersFive House Democrats who could join Biden Cabinet Biden names John Kerry as 'climate czar' in new administration In the final chapter of 2020, we must recommit to repairing our democracy MORE (I-Vt.), who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, missed the vote, as did Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamFeinstein to step down as top Democrat on Judiciary Committee Democrats face increasing pressure to back smaller COVID-19 stimulus Media and Hollywood should stop their marching-to-Georgia talk 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 RyanBottom line Democratic anger rises over Trump obstacles to Biden transition Feehery: A possible House Speaker conundrum for Democrats 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 McConnellFeinstein to step down as top Democrat on Judiciary Committee Voters want a strong economy and leadership, Democrats should listen On The Money: Biden to nominate Yellen for Treasury secretary | 'COVID cliff' looms | Democrats face pressure to back smaller stimulus 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 CruzMcSally, staff asked to break up maskless photo op inside Capitol Capitol's COVID-19 spike could be bad Thanksgiving preview Republican senators urge Trump to label West Bank goods as 'Made in Israel' 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 FlakeProfiles in cowardice: Trump's Senate enablers McSally concedes Arizona Senate race The Hill's Morning Report - ObamaCare front and center; transition standoff continues 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 SessionsAlabama zeroes in on Richard Shelby's future Tuberville incorrectly says Gore was president-elect in 2000 Next attorney general must embrace marijuana law reforms 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.