Offering daily news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Shameful: U.S. House passes bill to effectively stop Syrian refugees from coming to America

The United States House of Representatives today disgraced itself by voting overwhelmingly to approve a Republican-backed bill intended to effectively block America from taking in more Syrian refugees. The vote on the legislation was two hundred and eighty-nine to one hundred and thirty-seven, with forty-seven Democrats shamefully joining nearly all the Republicans in voting aye.

H.R. 4036, in the words of New York Times reporters Jennifer Steinhauser and Michael Shear, “would require that the director of the F.B.I., the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and the director of national intelligence confirm that each applicant from Syria and Iraq poses no threat.”

The White House has made its unequivocal opposition to the bill known, saying that President Barack Obama would veto it if it reached his desk. But it must first go through the Senate, where its prospects are uncertain.

“Slamming the door in the face of refugees would betray our deepest values. That’s not who we are. And it’s not what we’re going to do,” President Obama tweeted ahead of the vote, adding, “Welcoming the world’s vulnerable who seek the safety of America is not new to us. We’ve safely welcomed 3 million refugees since 1975.”

With one exception, the roll call from our region was split along party lines:

Voting Aye: Republicans Jaime Herrera-Beutler, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Dan Newhouse, Dave Reichert (WA), Greg Walden (OR), Don Young (AK), Ryan Zinke (MT), Raúl Labrador and Mike Simpson (OR); Democrat Kurt Schrader (OR)

Voting Nay: Democrats Suzan DelBene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Jim McDermott, Adam Smith, Denny Heck (WA), Suzanne Bonamici and Earl Blumenauer (OR)

Not Voting: Peter DeFazio (OR)

Special jeers to Kurt Schrader of Oregon, who was the only Democrat from our region to turn his back on Syrian refugees and vote for this awful legislation.

“Today’s vote to severely restrict the resettlement of Syrian refugees in America is a fear-based, knee-jerk reaction that leaves families, women and children, the collateral damage of the war raging in Syria, out in the cold,” said OneAmerica Executive Director Rich Stolz in a news release sent to NPI. “It is a betrayal of America’s most cherished values and our character as a nation.”

“We are grateful for the moral leadership of Washington Governor Jay Inslee, who led several states in declaring a welcome for those fleeing the war in Syria, and Representatives Adam Smith, Suzan DelBene, Rick Larsen, Jim McDermott, Dennis Heck and Derek Kilmer for showing moral courage and voting against punitive restrictions on the settlement of refugees of the Syrian War.”

“We urge Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray to follow suit. America stands as a beacon of hope for those seeking refuge, opportunity and a better life. We must remain true to our character and values, and allow families and children fleeing war-torn lands a place of respite. Our core values as a nation demand no less.”

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid hinted he would be leading an effort to put the bill on ice in the Senate, telling reporters, “Don’t worry, it won’t get passed.”

Here is the full list of Democratic U.S. Representatives who voted for H.R. 4036:

  • Pete Aguilar (CA-31)
  • Brad Ashford (NE-02)
  • Ami Bera (CA-07)
  • Sanford Bishop (GA-02)
  • Julia Brownley (CA-26)
  • Cheri Bustos (IL-17)
  • John Carney (DE-AL)
  • Gerry Connolly (VA-11)
  • Jim Cooper (TN-05)
  • Jim Costa (CA-16)
  • Joe Courtney (CT-02)
  • Henry Cuellar (TX-28)
  • John Delaney (MD-06)
  • Lloyd Doggett (TX-35)
  • Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02)
  • John Garamendi (CA-03)
  • Gwen Graham (FL-02)
  • Gene Green (TX-29)
  • Janice Hahn (CA-44)
  • Jim Himes (CT-04)
  • Steve Israel (NY-03)
  • Marcy Kaptur (OH-09)
  • Bill Keating (MA-09)
  • Ron Kind (WI-03)
  • Annie Kuster (NH-02)
  • Jim Langevin (RI-02)
  • Dan Lipinski (IL-03)
  • Dave Loebsack (IA-02)
  • Stephen Lynch (MA-08)
  • Sean Maloney (NY-18)
  • Patrick Murphy (FL-18)
  • Rick Nolan (MN-08)
  • Donald Norcross (NJ-01)
  • Scott Peters (CA-52)
  • Collin Peterson (MN-07)
  • Jared Polis (CO-02)
  • Kathleen Rice (NY-04)
  • Raul Ruiz (CA-36)
  • Tim Ryan (OH-13)
  • Kurt Schrader (OR-05)
  • David Scott (GA-13)
  • Terri Sewell (AL-07)
  • Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09)
  • Louise Slaughter (NY-25)
  • Marc Veasey (TX-33)
  • Filemon Vela (TX-34)
  • Tim Walz (MN-01)

It pains us to say that some of these Democrats are members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. It’s incredibly disappointing to see names like Louise Slaughter, Marcy Kaptur, and Jared Polis on this list. What on Earth were they thinking, helping Republicans pass this shameful bill with a nearly veto-proof supermajority?

POSTSCRIPT: The Obama administration’s statement officially opposing H.R. 4308 has just been published and can be read on the White House website.