Capitol Edge: Congress will focus on Syria, budget

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., talking with the media before the House of Representatives approved a measure that would step up background checks on Syrian and Iraqi refugees. Alex Schuman/Media General


WASHINGTON (MEDIA GENERAL) — The Paris attacks and their aftermath dominated the week. Congress will stay focused on how to better protect our country and its citizens heading into the holidays.

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Congress battles over how to deal with Syrian refugees
  • Senators ask if public criticism makes it tougher for police
  • House of Representatives and Senate question the Secret Service director about recent scandals
  • French president heading to Washington

SYRIAN REFUGEES:  House Republicans, with the help of 47 Democrats, voted not to let more Syrian refugees into the country until background checks get even tougher. It’s unclear if the bill will receive enough support to make it out of the Senate. President Barack Obama has threatened to veto the bill and wants to move forward with his plan to allow 10,000 Syrian refugees into the U.S. in the next two years.

PROTECTING POLICE: U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, chaired a hearing looking into whether growing public criticism makes police officers afraid to enforce the law. Ronald Davis with COPS, Community Oriented Policing Services, said while social media and mobile devices are not making officers’ lives any easier, they just want to be treated fairly.

“I reject any notion that the officers are choosing not to do their jobs, that they’re reluctant to protect the American people. I think all evidence is to the contrary,” Davis said.

QUESTIONING SECRET SERVICE: Both the House and Senate Homeland Security committees came together to question Director of the Secret Service Joseph Clancy about the apparent culture that exists inside the agency and why agents charged with abusing their access to secret information have not lost their jobs or their security clearances.

“Everybody in your agency knows that using this information for what it was used for was incorrect, improper, unauthorized, illegal,” House Homeland Security Committee chair Rep. Scott Perry, R-Penn., told Clancy.

Clancy said some agents involved in some of the multiple scandals and investigations have been fired.

“The misconduct outlined in the report is inexcusable and unacceptable. This conduct is not supportive of the agency’s unique position of public trust. On behalf of the men and women of the Secret Service, I would like to publicly renew my apology for this breach of trust,” he said.

LOOKING AHEAD:

  • French President Francois Hollande will be in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday.
  • Congress’ deadline for budget negotiations remains Dec. 11 (Government shutdown is still possible).
  • The new Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., plans to announce more changes to how the House of Representatives operates.

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