South Florida U.S. Rep. and U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy has signed a letter with 86 other House Democrats urging House Speaker Paul D. Ryan to not cut off money to the U.S. refugee resettlement program.
“We respectfully urge you to reject attempts to use critical year-end spending legislation to block the acceptance of refugees, including attempts to defund critical accounts or efforts to make it harder for refugees of a certain religion to seek sanctuary in the United States,” the letter reads, which was originated by Colorado Democrat Jared Polis. “Rather, we believe that funds available for the vetting and placement of refugees should be increased to ensure a thorough and expeditious process.”
The deadline to reach agreement on a bill to keep the government functioning is due to expire at midnight Friday.
The letter comes less than three weeks after Murphy joined 46 other House Democrats to OK a GOP-sponsored bill to suspend the program that allows Syrian and Iraqi refugees into the U.S. until key national security agencies certify they don’t pose a security risk. That vote was heavily criticized by Alan Grayson, his chief challenger for the Democratic nomination for Senate. There were also rank-and-file Democrats who were very unhappy with the Jupiter congressman. Murphy said those Democrats misunderstood what the bill actually does, countering claims that his vote would “close our doors to refugees.”
“Nothing could be further from the truth. The bill I voted for did only two things,” Murphy wrote on his Facebook page on Nov. 24. “Audit our refugee vetting procedures and require regular reports on our refugee program to Congress, including to the Intelligence Committee, of which I am a member. 2. Strengthen the already-strong vetting of refugees by requiring the heads of the overseeing agencies to certify that refugees are not a threat to our security before granting them refugee status.”
The letter sent Friday to Speaker Ryan says that inserting “wholesale changes to refugee admission policies into a year-end spending bill — where they cannot be properly debated or amended — is not the appropriate way to consider these issues.”
Politico was the first to report the letter this weekend. However, officials close to Murphy reject the premise of that story, “Some House Dems reconsider measure to restrict refugees.”
An official with the Murphy campaign who wished not to be identified said that Murphy stands by his original vote on the Syrian refugee issue, and says that the reason he signed on to the new letter was his passionate belief that such additional legislation of any sort shouldn’t be attached to budget bills.
Murphy was part of a group of 160 Democrats who signed a letter to Ryan and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Nov. 19 calling on them to reject “divisive policy riders in the FY 2016 Omnibus and to bring a clean spending bill to the floor.”
“Congressman Murphy has continually called for clean bills to keep the government funded,” said Erin Hale, Murphy’s communications director. She then sent along prior statements that Murphy hashed over the years where he made similar arguments, going back to the October of 2013 government shutdown and the recent fight over Planned Parenthood.