2 CT lawmakers vote to suspend program that allows Syrian and Ir - WFSB 3 Connecticut

2 CT lawmakers vote to suspend program that allows Syrian and Iraqi refugees in country

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Congressman Joe Courtney voted in favor of American SAFE Act (H.R. 4038) with Jim Himes. (WFSB File) Congressman Joe Courtney voted in favor of American SAFE Act (H.R. 4038) with Jim Himes. (WFSB File)

Two Connecticut Democrats voted in support of a bill to suspend the program that allows Syrian and Iraqi refugees into the U.S. until national security can guarantee the refugees don’t pose a security risk.

In total, 47 House Democrats joined the 242 Republicans, who voted for the American SAFE Act (H.R. 4038). The bill comes after 129 people were killed in Paris and hundreds of others were injured in bombings and shootings.

Jim Himes and Joe Courtney from Connecticut supported the act. 

“Americans want to know -- and deserve to know -- that their government is rigorously and thoroughly reviewing all refugee candidates to ensure no one is taking advantage of our nation’s generosity to commit violence here,” Courtney said in a statement on Thursday.

However, Rosa DeLauro, Elizabeth Esty and John Larson voted against the act on Thursday afternoon.

Today I voted for the Democratic alternative – the Safe Refugee Process Act– that in addition to the current rigorous screening process, would require the identity verification of all refugee applicants (not just those from Syria). Any application containing insufficient or unreliable information would be denied. In addition, it requires confirmation from five different federal agencies that an individual is not a threat to national security, and additional Inspector General and Congressional oversight. The safety and security of the American people is paramount. We should be working in a bipartisan manner to identify and address any risks that pose a threat to national security, not rush to the floor with a bill that could effectively put a pause on any Syrian refugees coming to the U.S.," Larson said in a statement on Thursday. 

Courtney posted information about the screening process for refugees on his own website. Click here to see that video.

“The process in place today to screen any refugee seeking to enter the United States is already extensive, featuring more than a dozen layers of review by our security and intelligence agencies and additional screening for those arriving from Syria. The heightened awareness of the threat posed by ISIL gives Congress the opportunity to build on this effective screening process already in place to address the legitimate concerns that many in eastern Connecticut, and around the country, feel today. In my view, the measure I supported today will build on that process while ensuring that our nation continues to honor our values by welcoming those fleeing the terror inflicted on innocent people by ISIL,” Courtney said.

Courtney said the bill is not a solution to the issues of “the ongoing tragedy of the humanitarian crisis in Syria and the ongoing threat posed by the terrorist group ISIL.”

“Notably, while it took only a few days to bring this bill to the floor this week, Congress has yet to pass a spending bill to keep the government open beyond December 11 as well as the authorization for military force submitted by the President in February to guide our nation’s efforts, along with our international partners, to combat ISIL It is my hope that the House leadership will put as much effort into the speedy passage of a bill to keep our security agencies and humanitarian efforts fully funded for the next year as it has in quickly passing this bill today,” Courtney said.

Larson said he "commended" Gov. Dannel P. Malloy for his stance and meeting with a family that was denied access into Indiana. The family of three is now being housed in New Haven. 

"That is the real American spirit. Barring innocent people—many of whom are women and children—from entering the country does not help us defeat ISIL. In fact, it could help with their recruitment. Our primary objective right now needs to be building a coalition with our allies, including countries in the Middle East, many of whom have felt the horror of ISIL’s attacks firsthand. We cannot defeat ISIL alone, nor should we try. We cannot allow fear to eclipse our longstanding tradition of sheltering those in need. When we overreact, we play into the hands of cowards whose only aim is to terrorize and slay innocent people," Larson said. 

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