Senator Johnson Disappointed that Refugee Bill is Blocked

Senate Democrats prevent debate on American Safety Against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act

WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats on Wednesday blocked the consideration of the American Safety Against Foreign Enemies Act. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, sponsored the Senate companion, S.2300 in November. The American SAFE Act requires that supplemental certifications and background investigations be completed prior to the admission of certain refugees into the United States. Johnson’s response to the failed vote:

“I have long called for passage of this important legislation, and I am disappointed that Senate Democrats have once again moved to block a bill that would address a national security vulnerability. In November, I introduced the Senate companion, S. 2300, and called for its inclusion in the omnibus spending bill. I again called for consideration of this bill two weeks ago, after learning of the arrest of two Iraqi refugees with suspected associations to terrorism — one with connections to Milwaukee.  Just as principal executive and financial officers of public companies must certify to the federal government the accuracy of their financial reports, this bill requires the heads of several government agencies to certify the adequacy of their vetting and background investigations of refugees from Iraq and Syria. 

“Earlier this year, the president announced plans to raise the refugee ceiling from 70,000 in fiscal year 2015 to 85,000 for 2016 and to 100,000 for 2017.  During a committee hearing focused on refugee resettlement, I asked the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services whether the management solution to this increase to the agency’s caseload by 21 percent and 43 percent, respectively, would be to short-circuit the vetting process.  To ensure this is not the case, it is extremely important that this bill is signed into law.  I will continue to work with my colleagues to find areas of agreement on legislation that would seriously consider common-sense solutions and prevent any shortcuts to the U.S. vetting process.”