White House plans to cut refugee admittance to all-time low

The Statue of Liberty in New York City is seen through fencing on Aug. 14, 2019. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images file photo)

The Trump administration announced on Thursday plans to slash its refugee admittance program by almost half next year, the lowest cap since the refugee system was created in 1980.

The White House said it would admit no more than 18,000 refugees for the next fiscal year, a drop from its current limit of 30,000 and a plunge from the 110,000 admitted in 2016 under President Barack Obama’s final year in office.

Dems to Trump: Now Let’s Talk About Refugees
Air strikes alone can’t mitigate humanitarian disaster, Democrats say

Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., left, and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., head to the Senate floor for a vote on Tuesday, April 4, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Democrats who were quick to express support for the American air strikes in Syria followed up Friday with a warning that the Trump administration cannot hope to fully address the humanitarian disaster without reassessing its intolerance toward refugees.

“The President said that images of slaughtered Syrian children contributed to his decision to take military action,” said California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris. “That should also compel the Administration to rethink its misguided refugee policy and open our doors to the children and families fleeing ongoing violence and oppression in Syria and elsewhere.”

Congress Reacts to Trump Ban on Refugees
McConnell said tighter vetting is good, but highlighted need for Muslim allies

A passenger from a Saudi Arabian Airlines flight from Jeddah walks by demonstrators at Dulles International Airport in Virginia on Sunday. Protests erupted at airports around the country following President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell offered some skepticism of President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily barring refugees and immigrants from certain countries, but declined to offer a “blanket criticism” of the order.

Trump issued an order Friday evening that banned for 90 days citizens from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Sudan and Yemen. Syria, Iraq and Somalia were among the top five countries of origin for refugees entering the United States in 2016, according to the State Department.

Analysis: Desire to Avoid Bush Missteps Could Taint Obama Legacy
As he plays long game in Syria, some experts and lawmakers see a 'disaster'

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, right, holds up the iconic photo of a young dead Syrian boy as he addresses the Syrian refugee crisis during a news conference on Capitol Hill in December. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Barack Obama’s relative inaction in the Middle East will shape — and, perhaps, taint — his legacy, an ironic twist to a presidency conceived in part by his own criticism of his predecessor's military overreach in the region.

The outgoing commander in chief opted against enforcing his own “red line” against Syrian President Bashar Assad. His decisions against a more robust effort to equip, train and help rebel forces, against using American ground troops, and against removing Assad from power are all part of a complicated mosaic that includes the birth of the Islamic State group, an again-unstable Iraq, and an ongoing refugee crisis that stretches to northern Europe.

Lawmakers to Obama: Press Allies at NATO Summit
White House official: 'Inflection point' as alliance faces old, new threats

Republicans and Democrats are urging President Barack Obama  to use his final NATO summit to press European leaders to be more aggressive against an old threat from their eastern flank and a new one to their south.  

White House officials see the gathering coming at "an inflection point" for NATO and Europe. Beginning Friday in the Polish capital of Warsaw, Western leaders will discuss what seems to be an ever-swelling list of threats that includes a more aggressive Russia, Islamic State attacks and a flood of migrants and refugees from the Middle East and Africa.  

Cruz Questions Refugee Resettlement
He asks the Obama administration about costs to communities

Ted Cruz is questioning the Obama administration's handling of refugee resettlement. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz wants answers from the Obama administration on how it determines where in the United States to resettle refugees from the Middle East.  

"I am concerned that the federal government and the voluntary agencies that administer the resettlement program have been abusing the generosity and good will of resettlement communities by funneling refugees to those communities without adequate consultation and advance notice," the Texas senator wrote the State Department and the Department of Health and Human Services in a letter released Thursday.  

Lieu Screens Film On Human Saga of Syrian Refugee Crisis
Documentary Focuses on Lives of 5 Refugees

"Salam Neighbor" tells the story of the refugee crisis caused by Syria's civil war. (Courtesy Living on One and 1001 Media)

Tuesday marks a grim anniversary, but members of Congress and the makers of the film "Salam Neighbor" want to make sure people don't forget it.  

Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., is hosting a screening of the documentary about the Syrian civil war and its humanitarian crisis on Monday at the Capitol Visitor Center, one day before the fifth anniversary of the start of the conflict. Sen. Christopher S. Murphy, D-Conn., is a special guest at the event, which includes a panel discussion with directors Chris Temple and Zach Ingrasci, and producers Salam Darwaza and Mohab Khattab.  

McCarthy Shuts Down Shutdown Talk

McCarthy said the government would not shut down. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Heading into a tense negotiation period, the GOP's floor leader is taking away one of the party's most frequently used weapons, the threat of a government shutdown.  

Congress faces a Dec. 11 deadline to pass an omnibus government spending package to avert a shutdown. In a Monday pen-and-pad briefing, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., not only dismissed the possibility of a shutdown — he gave his troops some extra time if lawmakers can't meet their deadline.  

Democrats Slam White House Messaging On Refugee Bill

Pelosi, D-Calif. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

In 24 hours, House Democrats have gone from opposing the GOP  proposal to tighten the United States' screening of Iraqi and Syrian refugees to supporting the bill in large numbers.  

The shift is due to a number of factors, including pressure from constituents to take action this week — as well as frustration with the White House's inability to offer a compelling reason to wait. "What they should be doing is accepting the bill and offering to work with all of us on both sides to make it workable," said Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, D-Va., of administration officials.