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In the House, Personal Debates on Refugees

Amash has family ties to the Middle East. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The House debate on refugees and national security this week took a turn for the personal and for good reason: Several members are refugees or the children of refugees, have family ties to the Middle East or were imprisoned in U.S. internment camps on the basis of their ethnicity.  

After the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris, House Republicans drafted legislation requiring the FBI to certify background checks for U.S.-bound Syrian and Iraqi refugees and U.S. national security agencies to vouch that they are not security threats. The final vote in the House on Thursday was 289-137, a veto-proof margin. In the run-up to that vote, elected officials beyond the Beltway called for Syrian refugees to be turned away from their borders. One, Mayor David A. Bowers of Roanoke, Va., a Democrat, even invoked the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II to justify taking a pass on resettling refugees.  

House Democrats Plan Alternative to Syrian Refugee Bill

Lofgren tried to get changes made to the GOP refugee bill due on the floor Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 6:15 p.m. | House Democrats will use procedural gambits to get a vote on their proposal aimed at easing concerns about Syrian refugees coming to the United States but without completely blocking their resettlement.  

The partisan maneuvering has the potential to weaken support for a Republican-backed bill set to come to the floor Thursday. President Barack Obama has threatened to veto the measure, but the bill is expected to pass with GOP votes and some from fiscally conservative Democrats.  

House's Muslim Members Brace for Charged Terror Debate

Ellison, in 2011, arrives to testify at a Homeland Security Committee hearing on "The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community's Response" (Bill Clark/Roll Call)

Updated 5:30 p.m. | The two Muslim members of the House share the sentiments of their fellow Democrats: Under no circumstances should the United States block Syrian refugees from this country in the aftermath of the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris..  

But for Reps. Keith Ellison of Minnesota and André Carson of Indiana, there's a greater sense of urgency in how Congress responds to the violence at the hands of the Islamic State terror group, also known as ISIL or ISIS, that has a stranglehold in Syria. Ellison and Carson live and work in a political environment where “Islam” is often paired with the phrase “radical,” and many Republicans argue the only way to prevent “Muslim extremists” from coming to the United States is to bar entry of all asylum seekers from Syria.  

House Takes Symbolic Stand Against Iran Deal (Video)

McCarthy called the Iran vote possibly the "most important" lawmakers would ever take. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The House rejected, 162-269, a resolution Friday to approve President Barack Obama's nuclear agreement with Iran, an unsurprising outcome that still in all likelihood will not prevent the administration from moving forward with implementation.  

Every Republican except Rep. Thomas Massie (he voted present) voted against the measure. They were joined by 25 Democrats, most of whom had previously announced they would oppose.  

Despite White House's Iran Blitz, Democrats Struggle With Backing Deal

Kerry is making frequent visits to Capitol Hill to sell lawmakers on the Iran nuclear agreement (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Democrats were briefed on the Iran nuclear deal Thursday afternoon by Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Energy Earnest J. Moniz, but many sounded as undecided when they came out as when they went in.  

"I'm working through it," said Rep. Eliot L. Engel, D-N.Y., the ranking member of the Foreign Affairs Committee. “That’s why we have 60 days.” Congress is set to vote on a resolution — sooner than that — to approve the sweeping agreement to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.  

War on Islamic State Finally Gets House Floor Debate

McGovern spearheaded the push to force a floor debate on U.S. military action in Iraq and Syria (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Three House lawmakers wanted a robust debate on whether there should be boots on the ground in Iraq and Syria.  

On Wednesday, they got their wish. After nearly two hours of debate, the House voted down a privileged resolution directing President Barack Obama to withdraw most U.S. military personnel from the two countries by the end of the year at the latest.  

Boehner: Obama Should Start Over on War Authority Request (Video)

Boehner steps up criticism of Obama as ISIL takes Ramadi. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker John A. Boehner, escalating his criticism of the administration's handling of the war against the Islamic State terror group, said Tuesday the president should scrap his Authorization for Use of Military Force proposal and submit something different to Congress.  

"The president, frankly, should withdraw the [AUMF] and start over," Boehner said at a news conference. "We don't have a strategy. ... For over two years I've been calling on the president to develop an overarching strategy to deal with the terrorist threat. We don't have one, and the fact is the threat is growing faster than what we and our allies can do to stop it."  

CODELs: Boehner to Israel, McCarthy to Tunisia, Pelosi to Asia

McCarthy and his delegation were in Tunisia before heading to Ukraine. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Not everybody gets to travel overseas during the two-week House recess  just ask Louie Gohmert .  

However, many of those lawmakers who are participating in high-profile congressional delegations, or CODELs, will come back to Capitol Hill armed with new insights into some of the biggest policy issues facing Congress this year. Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, is leading a delegation that will culminate in a meeting in Israel  with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who just won re-election and addressed a joint meeting of Congress earlier this month.  

Boehner: Obama Is 'Anti-War President' Unwilling to Lead (Video)

Boehner slammed the president Thursday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker John A. Boehner dismissed Barack Obama Thursday as an "anti-war president" unwilling to lead an international coalition against the Islamic State terror group, also known as ISIS or ISIL; al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations.  

"The world is starving for American leadership, but America has an anti-war president. We have no strategy, overarching strategy, to deal with a growing terrorist threat, and it's not just ISIS or al-Qaida and all of their affiliates," the Ohio Republican said at his weekly news briefing.