House Fails to Properly Address Obama’s Refugee Resettlement Program

HR_4038In response to last Friday’s deadly terrorist attacks in Paris, the House saw a flurry of activity in the beginning of the week with multiple bills introduced to block the resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees in the United States. House GOP Leadership settled on bringing Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul’s (R-TX) bill, the American Security Against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act, for a Thursday floor vote. McCaul’s bill, H.R. 4038, requires the approval of top national security officials before the administration can resettle refugees from Syria and Iraq. (See FAIR’s Summary of H.R. 4038) In an interview before Thursday’s vote, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said that we must “have higher standards placed upon [the refugee program] so that we can verify on a person-by-person basis, each and every single refugee, whether or not they pose any security risk.”

However, the American SAFE Act is a flawed bill that fails to completely stop or defund the current refugee resettlement program and cedes all responsibility to an already untrustworthy administration to verify whether any refugees present a national security risk. It also maintains the false assumption that it is possible to properly vet refugees from Islamic extremist hotbeds, provided new processes are quickly put in place. This ignores the grim realities of the situation on the ground as well as susceptibility to radicalization once refugees arrive. Despite the bill’s shortcomings, President Obama threatened to veto the House bill ahead of the vote, saying that its verification requirement would create “significant delays and obstacles” for the existing refugee vetting program.

In an attempt to address the bill’s core flaws, a group of House Republicans led by Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX) introduced an amendment that would have placed a six-month moratorium on refugee resettlement. (Breitbart, Nov. 18, 2015) The amendment also would have required a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study within 90 days to assess the economic impact of refugees on state and local governments. (Id.) However, House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX) announced that the bill would be voted on under a closed rule, effectively blocking any amendments — including Rep. Babin’s — from being offered to the bill. (Id.) The bill subsequently passed in its original form with a 289-173 vote — a majority sufficient enough to override an Obama veto. (Roll Call Vote #643) If the Senate takes up the bill, it likely won’t be until Congress returns in December from the Thanksgiving recess.

With the passage of a bill that fails to address the underlying problems, the next opportunity to truly stop Obama’s refugee resettlement program would come as part of the omnibus spending bill that must be passed to fund the government in early December. FAIR is supporting an effort by Rep. Babin to include specific reforms, security measures, and oversight requirements for the refugee resettlement program in the omnibus spending bill. (See FAIR Action Alert) Under this approach, the program would be suspended in its current form until reforms are implemented and Congress agrees to resume the program by joint resolution.

Stay tuned to FAIR as details unfold…


avatar About FAIR Gov't Relations Team

From meeting with members of Congress to providing testimonies for hearings and issuing reports, FAIR has worked on national immigration issues since 1979. The Government Relations team reviews legislation and legal opinions and acts as a liaison between FAIR and Congress.


  1. avatar Laura says:

    Someone help do the math. Gov estimates 65,000 dollars per refugee over a five year period. That’s what?….1200 plus, per month, for five years?…. This same amount of money, could help provide for 4,000 of our disabled, homeless, seniors, veterans in each state for five years. That’s the same 1200 plus dollars a month for each citizen, for five years. … Also consider the , more than one hundred billion a year being spent on the illegals. If they are so great for our economy, then why is it costing us over a hundred billion dollars a year? Social Security broke?…. Our national debt is not getting paid off. Etc.

    • avatar Laura says:

      In the following post, I left something out. This is based on the number of 200,000 refugees. Obama and Kerry originally reported 180,000 refugees as their goal by sometime next year, I added reported recent immigration numbers, plus relatives, etc. This is how I estimated the total cost. Who knows? The financial cost could be more.

  2. avatar Laura says:

    It is so scary to think these EU countries would provided them with documents, solely based on the refuges word their documents had either been lost or stolen. …. Someone brought up the possibility of using polygraphs, which I think should be a routine part of investigating these refugees.

  3. avatar Leland says:

    There is no way to know who these people are. We’re going to vet them how? We’re going to send people to Syria to check on them? And the fact is that a lot are not even from Syria but destroyed their documents so they could claim Syrian refugee status. But how do we prove who they are when they claim they lost their documents, but were issued documents in countries like Italy and Greece based solely on their word.