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An anti-refugee bill stalls out in the US Senate, thanks in part to Donald Trump

By Hanna Kozlowska

A  controversial bill that would have made it much harder for Syrian and Iraqi refugees to come to the United States failed to advance in the Senate today (Jan. 20), despite support from Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. The bill —which cleared the House of Representatives with bipartisan support—would have added onerous security requirements to what is already a long and complicated vetting process.

As a gambit to sink the bill, Democrats introduced an amendment that would have included Donald Trump’s controversial proposal to temporarily ban all Muslims from immigrating to the United States. After Republicans refused to add the amendment, the Democrats used their votes to filibuster the bill, which received only 55 of the 60 votes it needed to move forward, effectively killing it.

“Republican leaders, including the speaker and the Republican leader, have pledged loyalty to Donald Trump and his disgraceful policies,” said minority leader Harry Reid. “As the front-runner of the Republican nomination, Donald Trump and his proposals are leading the public debate in our country. Republicans who support these illogical plans should be prepared for the next logical step: voting on his vision of America.”

Senate majority whip John Cornyn said the amendment effort brought the “circus to town“: ”I hate to see the Democratic leader try to trivialize this very important national security debate and discussion by injecting presidential election politics right in the middle of this.”

Cruz and Rubio returned from the campaign trail just for today’s vote, which elicited a jab from Reid: “I know it’s a big day in the Senate … the junior senator from Florida is going to be here to vote and the junior senator from Texas.”

The legislation aimed to require the heads of the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence to all certify to Congress that a given refugee would not pose a security threat to the United States before they were admitted to the country.