Government Shutdown Over Syrian Refugees Looming

Having been in office less than three weeks, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-WI, may already be facing the impending peril of a government shutdown. A number of political officials have introduced legislation or at least talking points demanding changes or an outright stop to the White House’s plan of taking in 10,000 Syrian refugees.

Two presidential candidates in the Senate have sought to gain political points bye introducing legislation. Rand Paul, R-KY, reintroduced a bill on Monday that adds additional restrictions to issuing visas to refugees. Not to be outdone, Ted Cruz, R-TX, is set to introduce a bill specifically barring Syrian refugees who are Muslim.

However, since the President could easily veto those bills, and would most likely do so based on his comments, many xenophobic legislators are looking to the upcoming spending bill as an alternative method.

Reps. Brian Babin, R-TX, and Jeff Duncan, R-SC, have both stated that the House should use the “power of the purse” and require defunding the Syrian refugee resettlement program in the upcoming omnibus appropriations bill. While Ryan himself has not called for an outright ban, he did suggest a pause in the current Syrian refugee plans.

However, judging from the harsh rhetoric from both presidential candidates and a large number of governors, a mere pause may not be enough to satisfy their calls. As the ability to compromise or reach a middle ground continues to be ridiculed by those in higher office, instead of seeking a way to reach agreement on this issue, many Republicans seem keen on simply defaulting to their favorite tactic: a government shutdown.

This, of course, ignores the fact that these Senators and Representatives will continue to be paid their salaries, while millions of federal workers would lose out on one, or more, of their paychecks right before the holidays.

In addition, the last government shutdown cost the United States:

  • $500 million in lost income for the National Park Service from visitors
  • 700 applicants their ability to receive $140 million in small business loans by the Small Business Administration
  • 1.2 million requests to the IRS that could not be processed
  • $2.5 billion in retroactive paychecks to the furloughed employees

So despite the fact that this would hurt federal employees right before the holidays, cost the taxpayers billions of dollars, and ignoring the actual statistics on the Syrian refugees that show that almost 70% are women and children, these “leaders” would rather cause a government shutdown then let the refugee vetting process continue.

You know, it’s a shame that there isn’t a religiously and culturally significant story that talks about how a Middle Eastern couple couldn’t find shelter to inspire these political leaders to have some compassion.


Featured image by WikiMedia Commons, available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license.