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McConnell: Syrian Refugee Issue to be 'Dealt With' in US Funding Bill

FILE - Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell
FILE - Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that the Syrian refugee issue will likely be addressed in a must-pass government funding bill this month.

The Republican leader said the spending bill was a "work in progress" but that "the refugee issue is likely to be dealt with in some way" in that legislation, which faces a Dec. 11 deadline for passage by Congress.

McConnell did not say whether the spending bill, needed to avert a government shutdown after Dec. 11, would have language to further tighten controls on Syrians seeking asylum in the United States or instead focus on revising a "visa waiver" program. That program allows travelers from a few dozen countries, many in western Europe, to come to the United States without going through a visa process.

Security experts say loopholes in that program offer greater opportunity for Islamic State militants or others to slip into the country.

The House of Representatives last month passed a bill requiring the director of the FBI and other high-level officials to certify that each Syrian refugee being allowed into the United States presents no security risk.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican, said the measure would delay the U.S. program to admit refugees by at least six months and critics of the bill argue it would make the program impossible to administer.

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