House tightens visa waiver program

It's not much, but it's a start.

The House voted overwhelmingly to end the visa waiver program for Western travelers who visit Middle East countries known as terrorism breeding grounds.

The vote was 407-19, as Democrats, desperate to show they're not soft on terrorism, climbed on board the GOP sponsored legislation in droves.

Washington Examiner:

The legislation is part of a broader effort by the GOP to shore up national security following the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif.

Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said the bill "will help neutralize the threat of foreign terrorists entering this country," and he added the GOP would be introducing additional legislation addressing that threat.

"We are working together to tackle this threat and we are ready to do more," Ryan said.

While it was written by a group of House GOP lawmakers who chair security-related panels, it garnered broad Democratic support, including the endorsement of top Democratic leaders. But most Democrats are opposed to another GOP bill that would essentially halt President Obama's plan to resettle thousands of Syrian and Iraqi refugees in the United States.

House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., called the modification to the visa waiver program that passed Tuesday "a reasonable and measured step" to deal with the terror threat.

Under the legislation, travelers from the four countries would have to first apply for a visa before entering the United States, which would require a much higher level of scrutiny than simply entering with a passport. Dual passport holders from any of the four countries flagged in the legislation would also have to apply for a visa.

The ban on Syrian refugees is part of a tug of war over the omnibus spending bill that must be passed by December 11 to keep the government fully funded.  The two sides are still far apart on taxes, energy policy, and the Syrian refugee question, so a short-term funding measure is expected by the end of the week.

The White House keeps insisting its vetting procedures for Syrian and other Middle Eastern refugees is adequate, but few in either party on Capitol Hill believe that.  The notion that we should delay admitting Syrian refugees until we can make the vetting system more reliable actually attracts some Democratic support, but an outright ban on Syrians entering the U.S. is a non-starter.

There's a lot more to do in shoring up our immigration and refugee procedures to weed out undesirables and terrorists.  The visa waiver legislation is a small step in the right direction.

It's not much, but it's a start.

The House voted overwhelmingly to end the visa waiver program for Western travelers who visit Middle East countries known as terrorism breeding grounds.

The vote was 407-19, as Democrats, desperate to show they're not soft on terrorism, climbed on board the GOP sponsored legislation in droves.

Washington Examiner:

The legislation is part of a broader effort by the GOP to shore up national security following the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif.

Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said the bill "will help neutralize the threat of foreign terrorists entering this country," and he added the GOP would be introducing additional legislation addressing that threat.

"We are working together to tackle this threat and we are ready to do more," Ryan said.

While it was written by a group of House GOP lawmakers who chair security-related panels, it garnered broad Democratic support, including the endorsement of top Democratic leaders. But most Democrats are opposed to another GOP bill that would essentially halt President Obama's plan to resettle thousands of Syrian and Iraqi refugees in the United States.

House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., called the modification to the visa waiver program that passed Tuesday "a reasonable and measured step" to deal with the terror threat.

Under the legislation, travelers from the four countries would have to first apply for a visa before entering the United States, which would require a much higher level of scrutiny than simply entering with a passport. Dual passport holders from any of the four countries flagged in the legislation would also have to apply for a visa.

The ban on Syrian refugees is part of a tug of war over the omnibus spending bill that must be passed by December 11 to keep the government fully funded.  The two sides are still far apart on taxes, energy policy, and the Syrian refugee question, so a short-term funding measure is expected by the end of the week.

The White House keeps insisting its vetting procedures for Syrian and other Middle Eastern refugees is adequate, but few in either party on Capitol Hill believe that.  The notion that we should delay admitting Syrian refugees until we can make the vetting system more reliable actually attracts some Democratic support, but an outright ban on Syrians entering the U.S. is a non-starter.

There's a lot more to do in shoring up our immigration and refugee procedures to weed out undesirables and terrorists.  The visa waiver legislation is a small step in the right direction.