The Paris attacks exposed a rift that could lead to a new government-shutdown battle

Tuesday, November 17, 2015
By Paul Martin

Brett LoGiurato
Nov. 17, 2015

The burgeoning dispute over the issue of resettling Syrian refugees could complicate plans to keep the federal government from shutting down in December.

President Barack Obama’s administration is planning to resettle about 10,000 refugees from the war-torn country during the 2016 fiscal year, which began October 1. But two dozen governors across the country have said over the past two days that they will oppose letting Syrian refugees into their states.

And calls have increased to strip funding for Obama’s program from a crucial spending bill that needs to pass by December 11 to keep the government funded. That could lead to a fight with the White House, which has defended its plans in recent days, that could precede a shutdown.

“There are so many amendments — Planned Parenthood topped the list before the Syrian issue — that the omnibus budget bill could stall after Congress returns from its Thanksgiving break,” said Greg Valliere, the chief global strategist at Horizon Investments. “Still another stopgap bill, extending until December 18, is likely … and beyond that, no one is finalizing holiday plans.”

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday that requested the cancellation of what he called a “blank check” for refugee resettlement in the government-funding bill.

Sessions said his subcommittee, the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest, had identified at least 26 foreign-born individuals in the US “charged with or convicted of terrorism over approximately the last year alone.”

“The barbaric attacks in Paris — an assault on civilization — add immense new urgency,” he wrote in the letter.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security, also sent a letter to Obama calling on him to immediately suspend the admission of Syrian refugees into the US.

And Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a presidential candidate, said he would introduce legislation to bar Syrian refugees from entering into the US. Cruz has been a recurring presence in these budget battles, including the 2013 fight over the Affordable Care Act that led to a 16-day government shutdown.

“Sessions/Cruz will probably want to push for riders related to the refugee crisis,” a Democratic Senate aide told Business Insider. “And if they do, yes I think it jeopardizes [government] funding. Depends whether Sessions/Cruz convince other [Republicans] to join them.”

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