In a blow to President Barack Obama’s plan to welcome 10,000 Syrian refugees into American soil, the House voted overwhelmingly to bolster the vetting process that would prevent dangerous radical elements from entering the country. The move comes nearly a week after the ISIS massacre in Paris raised fears that Obama’s proposal would heighten the risk of a similar tragedy occurring stateside.
The legislation was approved by a vote of 289-137, with a whopping 47 Democrats choosing to cross party lines despite Obama’s insistence that he will veto any such legislation that makes it to his desk. That means that the bill obtained just enough votes to remain officially veto-proof, as long as no Democrats double back and side with the President in the event of a veto override vote.
The most significant challenge to the bill will likely occur in the Senate, where Minority Leader Harry Reid has made his intentions to block the passage of the bill exceedingly clear. “The problem is not with refugees,” Reid said at a press conference. “I don’t think we’ll be dealing with it over here.” He also expressed his complete confidence that the bill would not get passed under any circumstances.
Whether to support the legislation will prove difficult for Senate Democrats hoping for reelection in 2016. The American public has largely thrown its support behind the GOP-led initiative to ban Syrian refugees from coming to the U.S., which prompted Blue Dog Democrats in the House to skew conservative and support the bill. A similar struggle is expected to occur in the Senate.
If the bill is passed, any incoming Syrian refugees would have to be vetted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence. Obama has claimed that the vetting process already in place takes a year per refugee but several top security officials have expressed their doubts.