House Republican calls for tougher screening of foreign travelers

 
House Administration Committee Chairman Candice MillerCandice Sue MillerThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump eyes narrowly focused response to Iran attacks GOP struggles with retirement wave Women poised to take charge in Dem majority MORE (R-Mich.) says the country can't continue to give foreign travelers "special access" to the United States without boosting threat screening. 
 
There are "major weaknesses" in the U.S.'s visa waiver system, which allows travelers from 38 approved countries to visit the country for up to 90 days without a visa, Miller said. The House plans to vote to strengthen the program next week. 
 
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"We simply can’t give people from other countries special access to our soil if we don’t have all of the information that we need to make sure that they’re not a threat," she said Saturday in the Republicans' weekly address. 
 
Miller said the U.S. has to take every step to defend itself against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). After last month’s terrorist attacks in Paris, support has grown for changes to the program. 
 
“Clearly, we have a major weakness in our visa-waiver program — a glaring hole that we have to close," Miller said. "The members of ISIS will use every means within their power to attack our country. And that’s why we have to use every mean within our power to defend it."
 
The bill would block anyone who has traveled to Syria, Iraq or a few other nations in the past five years from participating in the expedited program. It would also require that the U.S. collect more information about those who use the program, codifying a policy already in place. 
 
The legislation would also encourage the Department of Homeland Security to cut off a country from the program if they do not share increased information with the United States about their travelers. 
 
The program is used by about 20 million people a year. The Obama administration has recently taken steps aimed at strengthening security around the program after the Paris attacks.
 
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said he expects bipartisan passage of the bill next week. 
 
The proposal does not go as far as some GOP ideas, including one rejected by the Senate. The amendment, sponsored by presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), would have created a 30-day wait for people using the program and would have paused U.S.-issued visas for people from about 30 countries.
 
"As Americans, we live in a free and open society, and terrorists are looking for any and every opportunity to exploit those freedoms and use them against us, so we need to think clearly," Miller said.