The U.S. House of Representatives voted on a bill Thursday that makes it much more difficult for Syrian and Iraqi refugees to enter America. The vote included forty-seven Democrats, despite President Barack Obama’s criticism of the bill.
Thursday’s vote was 289-137, enough to override the White House’s threat to veto the legislation, which was drafted in response to the wave of terrorist attacks across Paris last Friday, after the discovery that at least one of the terrorists entered Europe through Greece with a group of Syrian refugees. The bill requires the nation’s three top security officials — the Homeland Security secretary, FBI director, and national intelligence director — to certify to Congress that each Syrian or Iraqi refugee is not a security threat before the refugee can be admitted into the country. U.S. Senate Minority Leader, Harry Reid said he will try to block the bill.
On Monday, U.S. House Homeland Security Committee Chairman, Rep. Michael McCaul (R Texas) filed a bill to allow Congress to either approve or disapprove of some 10,000 Syrian refugees to come into the United States, and that issue has become even more urgent. The United States House Homeland Security Committee and Foreign Affairs Committee held a joint hearing on radicalism on Wednesday to examine how instability abroad creates dangerous safe havens for Islamist terrorists to train and recruit, as well as how the United States government’s lack of a strategy to deal with these ungoverned spaces leads to a greater threat to Americans at home. During opening statements of Wednesday’s hearing, Chairman McCaul emphasized that ISIS is not “contained,” as President Obama says. Rep. McCaul warned that ISIS is expanding globally and is plotting aggressively. Former Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Matthew Olsen told lawmakers that the FBI is currently investigating ISIS in all 50 states and that at least 250 Americans have traveled to Syria to join the Islamic State or ISIS.
The Islamic State or ISIS released two videos earlier this week threatening U.S. cities. On Monday, the terrorists threatened Washington D.C. with attacks similar to those that killed more than 120 people in Paris last week.
“We say to the states that take part in the crusader campaign that, by God, you will have a day God willing, like France’s and by God, as we struck France in the center of its abode in Paris, then we swear that we will strike America at its center in Washington,” an ISIS spokesperson in the video says.
A second video released on Wednesday shows scenes of New York’s Times Square and Herald Square, and an ISIS militant said the Paris attacks were just the beginning. The video then cuts to a militant donning a bomb vest mixed with footage of flashing billboards and yellow taxi cabs. The video ends with a message on screen that reads “and what is to come will be worse and more bitter.”