RALEIGH — Expressing disappointment in President Obama’s threat to veto his bill requiring a more thorough screening process of refugees from Syria and Iraq, U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson, R-8th District, said Thursday he hopes the measure gets the same veto-proof support in the Senate it received in the House.
“The American people have spoken loud and clear, and today the People’s House responded with a very large, bipartisan majority vote on my legislation to deal with the Syrian refugee issue,” Hudson said in a teleconference call after Thursday’s 289-137 vote.
He said his “common-sense solution” does not prevent any refugees from entering the United States, nor does not bar every Syrian or Iraqi refugee from resettling here.
Hudson said the bill was responding to admissions from federal national security and intelligence officials that it is not possible currently to verify refugees’ identities or to weed out potential terrorists, despite President Obama’s claims to the contrary.
“I was really disappointed with the response of the president,” Hudson said after the vote, in which 47 Democrats defied Obama’s veto threat and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s directive for Democrats to oppose the measure.
Rep. Walter Jones, R-3rd District, was one of two Republicans voting against the measure. The three Democrats in the state’s congressional delegation also voted no.
Hudson said Obama attempted “to belittle Republicans who expressed a concern” about the national security threat, and “to set up this straw man saying that our legislation is a litmus test that will only allow Christians in, when it clearly is not. The only test here is a security test. Frankly, it’s very unpresidential.”
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has vowed to defeat the bill in the Senate.
But Hudson said Reid “has the same problem Nancy Pelosi has. They’re trying to carry water for this president against overwhelming support of the American people. The American people want a proper vetting process, or they don’t want these folks coming in.”
Hudson is hoping California Sen. Dianne Feinstein and New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, who’s likely to succeed the retiring Reid as Democratic leader, will work with Republicans to pass his bill. Both Democrats have expressed concerns about the Syrian refugee vetting process and Obama’s claims that the Islamic State has been contained.
Hudson’s legislation bars any refugees from Iraq or Syria from entering the United States unless the FBI director certifies that a thorough background investigation was done. It also requires the secretary of Homeland Security, FBI director, and director of national intelligence to certify to Congress that no refugee poses a security threat to the United States.
In addition, the legislation requires the Homeland Security inspector general to assess the refugee approvals independently, including an annual report verifying the locations of the refugees who are here.
“For the sake of our country’s safety and security, I strongly urge the president to reconsider his veto threat,” Gov. Pat McCrory said.
“The people of North Carolina expect our commander-in-chief to do everything in his power to ensure our citizens are safe, and unite this country around a solution to the threat posed by ISIS, not alienate and attack people who disagree with him,” McCrory said.
The governor has requested that Obama send no more Syrian refugees to North Carolina until a reliable and comprehensive screening process can be conducted. On Wednesday, the bipartisan Joint Legislative Commission on Government Operations endorsed McCrory’s position.
“Obama administration officials have said there are inherent shortcomings in the current screening process for refugees, especially those fleeing embattled Middle East countries where government databases are unreliable or nonexistent,” said U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-5th, who voted for the bill.
“Comparing an individual’s information against such deficient data leaves significant intelligence gaps and exposes the United States to insufficiently vetted individuals. This legislation is a first step” toward eliminating the security risks, Foxx said.
“Our president is willing to turn a deaf ear to his own counsel and risk the very safety of our nation,” said U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-2nd, who also voted for the measure. House members “took a critical step to prevent ISIS and radical Islamic extremist groups from invading our country.”
Dan E. Way (@danway_carolina) is an associate editor of Carolina Journal.