Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is getting his legislation to crack down on visas from countries with “significant Jihadist movements” fast-tracked through the Senate.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) started the fast-track process Thursday evening on legislation from Paul that was described as preventing “the entrance of extremist into the United States under the refugee program.”
The Kentucky Republican’s office clarified that the legislation is the crackdown on visas that Paul outlined earlier this week. Under the legislation, visas to nationals of approximately 30 “high-risk” countries would be blocked.
The procedural move will allow the legislation to skip over the Senate committee process and be placed directly on the Senate calendar. While the move could pave the way for it to be brought up the floor, no action has been scheduled.
The legislation would also require a 30-day wait for entering the United States from countries that are currently part of America’s Visa Waiver Program, including France.
Asked about the 30-day wait period, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) tied it to Paul’s presidential campaign.
“Well you can just see when you have to come up with a press release every day in a presidential campaign that you’re going to come up with some pretty screwy ideas,” he said.
Paul, however, defended his legislation earlier this week, suggesting that it would help prevent terrorists from entering the United States.
“The time has come to stop terrorists from walking in our front door. The Boston Marathon bombers were refugees, and numerous refugees from Iraq, including some living in my hometown, have attempted to commit terrorist attacks,” he said. “My bill will press pause on new refugee entrants from high-risk countries until stringent new screening procedures are in place.”
Paul isn’t the only 2016 presidential candidate to roll out legislation in the wake of last week’s Paris terrorist attacks. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) introduced legislation that would block refugees from countries with “terrorist-controlled territory” from entering the United States.
Cruz’s proposal would specifically block refugees from Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, while also allowing the State Department to block additional countries that have significant portions of their territory controlled by terrorist groups.