Speaker Ryan: GOP could block Syrian refugee funding

Story highlights

  • House Speaker Paul Ryan said Congress could cut off funding for Syrian refugee resettlement
  • GOP presidential candidates pressured Ryan to block President Obama's refugee plans

Washington (CNN)House Speaker Paul Ryan is increasingly in the spotlight as Republicans urge him to lead an effort to block funding for the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States.

The newly-elected speaker said Monday that he had asked President Barack Obama's administration to provide a classified briefing for all House members on the Paris attacks amid reports that one of the terrorists involved entered Europe as part of the wave of refugees fleeing Syria's civil war.
An aide to the GOP leader said it's not clear when that will take place but it doesn't appear it will be Monday.
    In a radio interview with Bill Bennett, Ryan also said he has tasked all committees of jurisdiction to come up with recommendations about how to ensure the thousands of Syrian refugees the president wants to settle in the U.S. won't be involved in terrorism.
    "Look, we've always been a generous nation taking in refugees. But this is a unique situation. This is a situation where you have single men coming over, which is not women and children," he said.
    Republican presidential candidates including retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee pressed Ryan to move against the White House
    Ryan said House leaders are considering adding refugee language to the large government funding bill that must pass by December 11.
    "We've got to make sure we're protecting ourselves," Ryan said. "So that's what we're looking at. What is the best option -- not just so we have an issue to talk about but so we have a result, which is to make sure we are not complicit or even facilitating of having someone come in who would seek to do us harm from Syria."
    "We're trying to figure out what is the best legislative option we have to make sure we can prevent something like this from happening," Ryan added.
    Senate GOP leaders are also looking at the question but no decisions have been made, according to one leadership aide. Classified briefings are also in the works for senators but are not finalized yet.
    Ryan's comments come as Carson asked the Speaker to move a bill that "terminates all ongoing funding for any federal programs that seek to resettle refugees and/or migrants from Syria into the United States, effective immediately."
    "Congress I think should defund all the programs that allow all these people to be here. Immediately. Today," Carson said Monday in Nevada.
    Huckabee, another 2016 contender, similarly heaped pressure on Ryan.
    "Speaker Ryan needs to make it clear that if the President won't stand to protect America from wholesale open borders, then Republicans will," Huckabee said in a statement.
    He even suggested Ryan might need to give up the job he just gained weeks ago over the issue.
    "If Ryan will not lead and reject the importation of those fleeing the Middle East without assurances that we can separate refugees from terrorists, then Speaker Ryan needs to step down today and let someone else lead," Huckabee said.