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Ryan Calls for 'Pause' on Syrian Refugees

McCarthy is forming a legislative task force in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Speaker Paul D. Ryan has asked the House to put together legislation this week responding to the Paris attacks and called for a "pause" in Syrian refugees coming to the United States.  

"The way we look at this issue is ... we have a refugee situation that we think requires a pause and a more comprehensive assessment on how to guarantee members of ISIS are not infiltrating themselves among the refugee population," Ryan said Tuesday after the weekly closed-door GOP Conference meeting. The speaker said the legislative response should not be entirely focused on refugees, and it should include a comprehensive plan to defeat ISIS.  

Members said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy in the conference meeting discussed the task force, which has been charged with producing both short- and long-term legislative recommendations to curb acts of terrorism and to address an influx of Syrian migrants fleeing the ongoing civil war in their country. President Barack Obama has proposed the U.S. will receive 10,000 Syrian refugees this year.  

Ryan said the task force has been meeting since Saturday. McCarthy announced Tuesday the following committee chairmen are serving on the panel: Reps. Michael McCaul of Homeland Security, Mac Thornberry of Armed Services, Robert W. Goodlatte of Judiciary, Devin Nunes of Intelligence, Ed Royce of Foreign Affairs and Harold Rogers of Appropriations.  

"We'll be back in touch as we make our conclusions this week," the speaker said.  

Rogers said the purpose is "mainly the refugee problem, and the proper vetting of people coming into the country."  

Thornberry would not provide details on a timeline for producing the recommendations, but they would likely benefit from working quickly. A concrete proposal could prevent a bitter fight over policy riders in the omnibus spending bill that must get passed by Dec. 11.  

Ryan suggested the legislative response may not be included in the must-pass omnibus bill. "We don't wait that long," he said.  

When asked if the Syrian refugee issue could cause issues for the spending bill, Rogers said he did not think it would be a cause for delay. But, he noted, "That's not the only matter that could complicate our process."  

Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report. Related: GOP Moves Forward With Sweeping Steering Panel Changes

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