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Washington, D.C. – House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) spoke on the House floor today to strengthen our refugee screening process and keep the American people safe:

Remarks are below, or watch online here.

“I thank the gentleman for yielding, and I thank those who have worked on this bill: Congressman Richard Hudson, Chairman Mike McCaul, a number of other committee chairmen, and Chairman Goodlatte and others. This is not an issue that comes before us just because of an action that happened recently—a horrific action.

“You know, Mr. Speaker, our duty is to protect the American people. You know, without security, we cannot have freedom. Without security, we cannot help others abroad. 

“The American people are generous, and we want to help those in the world suffering from terrorism and civil war. The fact that America gives far more in foreign aid than any other country in the world is a testament to our generosity.

“You know, in 2014 we gave over 6.5 billion dollars in humanitarian foreign aid alone, and that doesn’t even count the millions of dollars that privately have been offered by the American people

“But being generous does not mean we have to have a weak screening process for refugees, especially for those coming from Iraq and Syria, where we know people are there who seek to do us harm and are looking to exploit a weak process. And it is wrong to condemn a strong screening process using the language of charity and morality.

“When we allow refugees into this country, we must be guided by one single principle. If you are a terrorist or a threat to our country, you are not getting in. Period.

“The bill before us increases the standards to keep those who want to do us harm out. But America is not saying ‘no’ to refugees. America always stands as a beacon of hope for everyone fleeing oppression and terror. Nothing will stop us from protecting the innocent while continuing our fight against evil. Instead, this bill puts a pause on our refugee program until we are certain that nobody being allowed in poses a threat to the American people.

“But to those who do not even want to consider increasing accountability in our refugee process—and to the President who announced that he wants to veto this bill—let me tell you this. It is against the values of our nation and the values of a free society to give terrorists the opening they are looking for to come into our country and harm the American people. And we have an obligation to stop that from happening.

“But in the debate we are having on the refugee crisis, we should not lose sight of the root of the problem. The real problem is ISIL and our lack of a strategy to destroy them.

“It astounds me that the President refuses to face reality and admit that his strategy is failing. ISIL controls territory the size of Maryland. Attacks in Paris, Beirut, and in Egypt show that ISIL is not contained to Iraq and Syria. Every day ISIL continues to exist is another day they can train, recruit, and radicalize more people to continue their war on the civilized world and threaten the safety of the American people.

“This danger is real. And nothing can replace a winning strategy. Here in the House, we will not accept half measures. We are committed to keeping America safe. That’s why I ask all in the House to support this bill.

“And I yield back.”