US House passes stringent Syrian refugees bill

Washington, Nov 20 (IANS) US House of Representatives on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a bill that would block Syrian and Iraqi refugees from entering the US unless they pass strict background checks.

The measure was approved on a vote of 289 to 137, with dozens of President Barack Obama’s fellow Democrats breaking with the White House to endorse the bill.

The White House issued a veto threat on Wednesday and Obama said that Republicans’ concern about the current US vetting system for refugees “doesn’t jibe with reality”.

The bill would hold obliged heads of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Homeland Security as well as national intelligency agencies to certify to the Congress that each Iraqi and Syrian refugee let into the US was not a security threat.

The bill still has to sail through the Senate before being sent to Obama.

While whether it would pass the Senate remains unclear, several Republican lawmakers indicated that they would tie the issue of Syrian refugees to a must-pass December budget measure.

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