Speaker Ryan Calls for 'Pause' in Syrian Refugee Program

ByABC News
November 17, 2015, 12:12 PM

— -- House Speaker Paul Ryan is calling for a "pause" to the Syrian refugee program, saying Tuesday the House will act this week to address concerns that terrorists could slip into the United States under the guise of refugees.

"Our nation has always been welcoming, but we can't let terrorists take advantage of our compassion," Ryan said in a news conference Tuesday. "This is a moment where it's better to be safe than sorry."

Ryan did not get into specifics Tuesday morning, but he said a task force of seven key committee chairs are reviewing the subject and plan to come up with legislation for the House to vote on as soon as this week.

Republicans on Capitol Hill as well as several GOP presidential candidates have come out against the administration's plans to admit thousands of Syrian refugees following the Paris attacks. Nearly 30 governors have also said their states won't cooperate with resettling of Syrian refugees.

Many House Republicans said they want immediate action on the issue of refugees.

"The 'JV team' as declared by President Obama, which was totally contained as of last Friday, is clearly not contained and poses a great threat," Rep. Matt Salmon, (R-Arizona), said.

Ryan, who said the Paris attacks were "pure evil," also called on President Obama to present a "comprehensive strategy" to Congress to defeat the terrorist group.

"The ultimate solution is a strategy to defeat ISIS," he said, adding that he would not rule out deploying additional U.S. troops in the fight against ISIS.

Ryan said operations against ISIS are currently covered under the existing 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, but said Congress would "revisit" declaring war against ISIS at a later date.

Some Republicans have called on lead appropriators to insert language blocking Syrian refugee spending into the must-past omnibus spending bill Congress must send to the president by Dec. 11. Doing so could raise the risk of a government shutdown.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp, (R-Kansas), said tying the refugee issue to government funding shouldn't be ruled out.

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