Paris attacks

Paul Holding Up Spending Bill Over Refugee Welfare

(Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul says he won't allow a transportation and housing spending bill through quickly without a vote about Syrian refugees, likely halting final passage until after Thanksgiving.  

In a statement, Paul called it "an outrage" that Senate leadership filed cloture on the bill without his amendment regarding welfare for new refugees, and he promised he "will not back down." "I will use all available Senate rules and procedures to force them to use all possible time," Paul said in a statement.  

Senators Focused on Visa Waiver Vulnerabilities

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and others have pushed for changes to the visa waiver program in response to the Paris attacks. (Photo By Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)

While Syrian refugee resettlement has dominated the headlines in Congress this week, the more pressing national security debate in the Senate is about the way tourists and other travelers enter the United States.  

Senators from both sides of the aisle emerged from closed briefings concerned about security risks posed by the visa waiver program, which allows citizens from 38 countries to visit the U.S. for up to 90 days without a visa. After an all-senators briefing by administration officials late Wednesday afternoon, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said she intends to introduce legislation Thursday — along with Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. — that would bar individuals who have been in Syria or Iraq within the past five years from making use of the visa waiver program to gain entry into the U.S.  

Paris Terror Attacks Give Graham an Opening in 2016 Race

Graham (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sen. Lindsey Graham has tried in vain to make the GOP presidential race a fight over who has the best plan to crush the Islamic State. But as coordinated terror attacks on Paris dominate headlines, will primary voters finally listen to the South Carolina Republican?  

Graham has long pushed for military intervention in Syria, with a substantial ground component. He told CQ Roll Call Monday that he hoped his message would pick up traction, particularly in New Hampshire — host of the first-in-the-nation presidential primary and where he will travel this weekend with Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain.