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Visa Waiver Overhaul Provides Bipartisan Rallying Point

Miller's legislation my soon see some floor action. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Republicans and Democrats will have plenty to fight about next week with the omnibus spending bill due for consideration. But there's at least one issue on which they'll find some common ground.  

Members of both parties are prepared to separately back GOP legislation to strengthen the visa waiver program, leaders announced on Thursday. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., in a news conference to introduce the legislation, said the language was so devoid of controversy that it would come to the floor under the suspension of the rules — an expedited floor procedure reserved for measures that can easily pass with two-thirds majority of those present and voting.  

McCarthy: Visa Bill Will Become Law

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., later said members at a bipartisan meeting Wednesday evening hashed out the terms of the bill, which would make it more difficult for individuals to enter the United States from countries designated by the Homeland Security secretary as hotbeds for terrorist activity.  

The bulk of the legislative framework comes from Rep. Candice S. Miller, R-Mich., who saw her measure pass out of the Homeland Security committee in June. It's only moving now due to Congress's interest in offering a legislative response following last month's terrorist attacks in Paris.  

McCarthy, standing beside several committee chairmen on his task force charged with identifying such legislative solutions, said he didn't care whether the bill was sent to the president's desk as a standalone measure or as part of the must-pass omnibus.  

"I want this bill to become law ... as fast as possible," McCarthy said.  

Pelosi was less clear whether she would support the bill as part of the catch-all spending measure which is still mired in partisan negotiations.  

"I'm not a big supporter of doing as much policy as possible in the omnibus bill," she told reporters, "and I know many more people will want to vote for the visa waiver program than would want to vote for the omnibus bill."  

 

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