By Carl Hulse – – – –
The political struggle over new restrictions on refugees from Syria and Iraq now moves to the Senate after easy bipartisan approval in the House. But there won’t be any action until the week after Thanksgiving at the earliest, and Senate Democrats see that as good news for them.
Democrats eager to slow momentum behind the legislation arising out of the Paris attacks or to block it altogether see the 10-day interval as providing a bit of a cooling-off period. They hope it gives senators leaning toward voting for the bill a better chance to gauge reaction at home and perhaps come to a different conclusion with a little distance from the attacks. And they want to give the Obama administration more time to sharpen its defense of the current screening program after some House Democrats thought the White House came up short in providing a rationale to oppose the legislation.
“Time could be the best thing we have,” a Senate Democratic official said.
At the moment, the leadership is not sure it can hold enough Democrats to prevent Senate Republicans from moving ahead with the bill, which the president has promised to veto. The House vote put Republicans there within reach of an override should it come to that.
At a minimum, Democrats think they have at least found a way to return the favor and put Republicans on the political spot. They are calling for Republicans to join them in voting to prohibit gun purchases by visitors from France and 37 other countries whose citizens do not need visas to enter the United States. Republicans don’t want to take any votes on limiting the ability to purchase firearms. But Democrats, struggling with their own refugee position, figure that is one gun restriction it will be hard to oppose.