Graham And Leahy Introduce Bipartisan Emergency Funding Bill To Strengthen U.S. Response To The Syrian Refugee Crisis

WASHINGTON (WEDNESDAY, Oct. 7, 2015) -- In a bipartisan effort to enable a stronger U.S. role in helping to address the Syrian refugee crisis, the leaders of the State Department’s budget committee in the Senate, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), have co-authored and introduced the Middle East Refugee Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act.

Graham chairs the State Department and Foreign Operations Subcommittee of the Appropriations Committee and Leahy is the panel’s Ranking Member.  They introduced their bill (S.2145) on Tuesday night in the U.S. Senate.

The supplemental appropriations bill would provide an additional $1 billion in emergency funding to respond to the refugee crisis resulting from conflict in the Middle East, including costs associated with the resettlement of refugees here.

The bill does not set a specific number of refugees to be resettled in the United States but requires the Secretary of State to submit a report on the proposed uses of funds not later than 45 days after enactment of the act.  Their legislation includes a requirement for the Secretary of State to describe and assess the security vetting processes used for the resettlement of refugees, prior to the obligation of funds.  Depending on those variables, their bill could support resettlement of as many as 100,000 refugees over two years, compared with the administration’s proposed 10,000 refugees in Fiscal Year 16 and 25,000 in Fiscal Year 17.  The new federal fiscal year began on Oct. 1.

The bill includes transfer authority to other relevant federal agencies for the purpose of assisting in the resettlement of refugees in the United States, following prior consultation with the Appropriations Committee, and also subject to congressional notification.

Leahy said:  “The United States has a long and proud tradition of welcoming refugees fleeing war and persecution.  As Pope Francis made clear in his recent visit, today’s global refugee crisis is historic in its size and scope.  It warrants a response commensurate with our nation’s role as a humanitarian leader.  The disaster in Syria dwarfs anything we have seen for decades, with millions of people uprooted and seeking safety in other countries.  It is a humanitarian emergency of staggering proportions, and we need to do more.  Our bill would make that possible.” 

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