It takes 290 votes to override a presidential veto, in case you’re already looking ahead to that — but that’s only if every member of the House votes. Given that eight members were absent today, 289 yays would have been enough.
All but two Republicans, Walter Jones and Steve King(?!), voted yes. So did 47 Democrats.
The bipartisan support was a rebuke of President Barack Obama by House Democrats who felt that the administration failed to make a compelling case as to why they should vote against the Republican-authored bill when it was bad politics to do so.
“I think a lot of us went in with open minds and really wanted to understand the administration’s position on this,” said New York Democrat Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney. “It is offensive to me that we would stigmatize refugees…but if you read the bill what you find it that you have a pretty simple certification process sitting on top of an existing and extensive screening process that most of us believes works pretty well.”…
Sources said Maloney pushed back against the White House, saying the issue is “toxic” — even if Democrats oppose the Republican bill on policy grounds — because of the complicated messaging surrounding the national security issue. Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Texas also questioned whether the opposition from the White House was wise for rank-and-file members of the caucus.
Pelosi didn’t even whip votes against it. And why should she? If Senate Democrats can filibuster the bill, her caucus won’t have to vote on it again. Why force them to take a political risk by backing Obama up on this until it’s absolutely necessary?
Harry Reid says it’s dead on arrival in the Senate. We’ll see about that.
“The problem is not with refugees,” Reid said. “I don’t think we’ll be dealing with it over here.”
When asked about the prospect of Obama vetoing the legislation, Reid said, “Don’t worry, it won’t get passed. Next question?”…
[Republicans] warned Democrats will pay the price politically next year if they block it.
“We’ll crucify them,” said a senior House GOP aide.
Chuck Schumer, who was talking about a “pause” in the program a few days ago, has now apparently taken that option off the table and is onboard with Team Obama. The grand irony of O’s veto threat is that, arguably, having the bill filibustered in the Senate is a better outcome for the GOP than having Obama kill it is. If the bill is vetoed, every other Democrat can run away from it and say that anyone with a problem should take it up with the lame-duck-in-chief. If Senate Dems filibuster it, Republicans can say that the Democratic Party as a whole, as represented by their caucus, wouldn’t even let it come to the floor. This isn’t an “Obama problem,” in other words, this is a problem with Democrats generally. Remember that when you go to vote, especially in the down-ballot races.
Another irony: When you compare the House GOP’s bill to what Senate Dems are pushing, it’s the Democratic bill that’s more substantive. Dianne Feinstein wants to add an exception to the current policy of waiving the visa requirement for visitors from France; the exception would require a visa for anyone who’s visited Iraq or Syria in the last five years. That wouldn’t affect refugees, but frankly it’s the visa waiver program that’s probably the bigger terrorist threat to the U.S. With Merkel waving Middle Easterners into the EU by the thousands, it’s almost certainly easier for a terrorist to establish himself quickly in the EU and then fly on to the U.S. then to sign up and wait two years, subject to a lengthy background check, as a phony refugee. Hopefully Feinstein’s bill will pass regardless of what happens with the House GOP bill.
But that raises a question: Why is the House GOP bill, which does little except add an FBI background check to the refugee process and require that each refugee be certified by department heads, so thin on practical security compared to the Democrats? Why did Paul Ryan decide not to include a religious test for refugees in the bill? Is it because he’s a pro-amnesty RINO who doesn’t take assimilation seriously? (There’s no disputing that he’s soft on amnesty.) Is it because he believes, in good conscience, that a religious test for admission would be unconstitutional or simply un-American, independent of assimilation concerns? Or is it because he realized this is a golden opportunity for a clear political win for the GOP over Obama and deliberately made the House’s refugee bill as unobjectionable as possible to Democrats in order to paint Obama into a corner? Boehner didn’t often outmaneuver O; if Ryan can get House and Senate Dems to join Republicans in defying a veto threat and sending a bill to Obama’s desk that he disdains, that’ll be a statement from the Speaker that things are going to be different now. I think that’s what he’s aiming it with this bill. So far, so good.