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House Meets At: First Vote Predicted: Last Vote Predicted:
9:30 a.m.: Legislative Business

Five “One Minutes”
10:30 – 11:30 a.m. 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.

H.Res. 531 – Rule providing for consideration of H.R. 4038 – American SAFE Act of 2015 (Rep. McCaul – Judiciary) (One hour of debate).  The Rules Committee has recommended a closed Rule that provides for one hour of general debate equally divided and controlled by the Chair and Ranking Member of the Committee on Judiciary. The Rule allows one motion to recommit and waives all points of order against the legislation.

The Rules Committee rejected a motion by Ms. Slaughter of New York to consider H.R. 4038 under an open Rule. The Rules Committee also rejected a motion by Ms. Slaughter of New York to make in order an amendment by Mr. Thompson of Mississippi.  Mr. Thompson’s amendment requires the Department of Homeland Security to have procedures to overcome information gaps in checks on identity for refugee applicants, authorizes a comprehensive review of refugees to identify security threats and requires DHS to certify that the comprehensive review was undertaken, and bolsters Congressional oversight by requiring monthly DHS reports on refugee applications from Syria and Iraq and DHS Inspector General reviews of DHS certifications. By refusing to allow this amendment to be offered, newly-elected Speaker Ryan is already breaking his promise to return to "regular order" and is adding to Republicans’ record of partisanship and obstruction by not allowing the House to work its will. Members are urged to VOTE NO.

Complete Consideration of H.R. 3189 – FORM Act of 2015 (Rep. Huizenga – Financial Services). H.R. 3189 would restrict the Federal Reserve’s operations and oversight by mandating a rules-based monetary policy regime, authorizing the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to audit all fed activities, including its decision-making ability over monetary policy, and limiting its emergency lending powers, which proved indispensable during the 2008 financial crisis.  H.R. 3189 is a partisan measure aimed at controlling the Federal Reserve and severely hampering and limiting its authority and autonomy.  Federal Reserve Chair, Janet Yellen strongly opposes H.R. 3189 and has stated, “the bill would severely impair the Federal Reserve’s ability to carry out its congressional mandate and would be a grave mistake, detrimental to the economy and the American people.”

The Rule provides for no further general or amendment debate.

Bill Text for H.R. 3189:
PDF Version

Background for H.R. 3189:
House Report (HTML Version)
House Report (PDF Version)

H.R. 4038 – American SAFE Act of 2015 (Rep. McCaul – Judiciary) (One hour of debate).  H.R. 4038 purports to improve the way in which refugees from Iraq and Syria are screened for admission to the United States.  The bill rests on a faulty assumption that the European refugee screening process is similar to the United States screening process. This is entirely inaccurate.  In contrast to European nations, the United States screens all refugees for 18-24 months before they even set foot on U.S. soil. We do not wait for refugees to arrive before screening; we do all of our extensive vetting prior to entry, thereby preventing any bad actors from gaining entry into the United States.  If a refugee is not able to prove identity, or raises any security flags, she is not granted admission to the United States.     

The U.S. Government should constantly re-evaluate and refine its refugee screening to find ways to strengthen the existing system and ensure that we are continuing to maintain the most rigorous vetting system in the world. But H.R. 4038 does not do this. This bill would shut down the refugee process by imposing unworkable certification requirements on the refugee vetting process.  This is a political, kneejerk reaction to a situation in Europe that is entirely dissimilar to our refugee admissions process.

In sharp contrast to what is occurring with refugees arriving in Western Europe, the U.S. has been able, due to its geographic distance from Iraq and Syria, to thoroughly screen refugees before they are ever admitted to the U.S. using an exhaustive screening protocol involving multiple agencies – the State Department, Homeland Security, FBI, and intelligence agencies – and the collection, verification, and analysis of data.  Security screening is the joint responsibility of the State Department and Homeland Security, with State managing refugee processing overseas and DHS (through USCIS) making final determinations about eligibility for admission. On average, this screening process takes 18-24 months, during which time refugees seeking admission to the U.S. must remain in refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan, and Turkey.  No refugee applicant is ever approved for travel to the U.S. until the results of all required security checks have been obtained and cleared, an advantage that Western Europe has obviously not had.  An extraordinary volume of data is collected on each refugee during the screening process, including the collection of information (biometric and biographic), and the results of an in-person interview with a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) immigration officer.      

H.R. 4038, if enacted, would add new and unworkable requirements to the existing screening system that is so robust and extensive that only 1,800 Syrian refugees have been admitted to the U.S. since the onset of Syria’s humanitarian crisis in March 2011. To the extent a majority of those admitted would be vulnerable women and children, the additional certification requirements are particularly inapplicable. 

Under H.R. 4038, Iraqi and Syrian refugees would be prohibited from entering the U.S. unless the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation certifies to the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence that a background investigation of each Iraqi and Syrian refugee seeking admission to the U.S. has determined that the refugee is not a threat to U.S. security.  H.R. 4038 further specifies that Iraqi and Syrian refugees may only be admitted to the U.S. after the Homeland Security Secretary, with the unanimous concurrence of the FBI Director and the National Intelligence Director, certifies to Congress that they are not a threat to U.S. security. H.R. 4038 would direct the Homeland Security’s inspector general to review, on an annual basis, all certifications and provide a report detailing the findings to Congress. The bill also directs the Homeland Security Secretary to submit to Congress, on a monthly basis, a report on the total number of applications for admission with regard to which a certification was made and the number of applicants with regard to whom such a certification was not made for the month preceding the date of the report.  The report is required to include, for each refugee who is not certified to enter the U.S., the concurrence or non-concurrence of the Homeland Security Secretary, the FBI Director, and the National Intelligence Director.

Lastly, the White House issued a SAP stating that “given the lives at stake and the critical importance to our partners in the Middle East and Europe of American leadership in addressing the Syrian refugee crisis, if the President were presented with H.R. 4038, he would veto the bill.”

The Rule provides for one hour of general debate.

Bill Text for H.R. 4038:
PDF Version

The Daily Quote

“New House Speaker Paul Ryan struck a confrontational stance with the Obama administration Tuesday, setting the stage for showdowns over domestic spending and national security matters as Congress works to wrap up business for the year. Mr. Ryan, speaking at The Wall Street Journal CEO Council annual meeting, said a spending bill needed to avoid a government shutdown in December must include Republican policy measures, injecting fresh drama into the year’s final budget fight… The Wisconsin Republican didn’t explicitly suggest government operations could lapse when funding expires on Dec. 11, but he didn’t rule out such a possibility. He said Republicans will force Mr. Obama to accept some conservative provisions, known as ‘riders,’ in the sweeping spending bill… Two years ago, a GOP push to curtail the Affordable Care Act led to a 16-day government shutdown that rattled financial markets and exposed deep divisions within Republican ranks.”

       -    Wall Street Journal, 11/17/2015