Patrick Murphy’s defense of Syrian refugee vote pummeled on Facebook
U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy

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Last week, Jupiter U.S. Rep. and U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy joined 46 other House Democrats in voting for the SAFE Act, which requires new screening requirements for refugees from Syria and Iraq before they can enter the United States. That vote came despite a vow by President Barack Obama to veto the legislation should it ultimately arrive at his desk.

Not surprisingly, Murphy’s vote was immediately denounced by Alan Grayson, his chief opponent in the Democratic Senate primary, who said Murphy was “cowering in fear of widows and orphans.”

Tuesday night, Murphy posted an explanation for his vote on his Facebook page and disavowed claims his vote would “close our doors to refugees.”

“Nothing could be further from the truth. The bill I voted for did only two things,” he wrote.

“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.”

Murphy’s comment had received over 500 “likes” on his Facebook page as of 10 a.m. Wednesday morning, but there were many critical remarks as well from Florida Democrats and others who claimed to be constituents.

“This was a bad vote and after the fact rationalizing doesn’t change that,” wrote Nadine Smith, head of Equality Florida.

“At least Sarah Palin agrees with you,” wrote former St. Lucie County Commissioner Doug Coward.

“Yet, you voted with the far right,” wrote Kelly Fitzgerald. “You have lost my vote and my support. This was a terrible move on your part.”

“I was sorely disappointed and the contributions no matter how small are DONE,” wrote Peter Rasmussen.

“Your vote was a betrayal of the President, your party, and your constituents,” Tom Rominger said. “Unless you know something you’re not at liberty to discuss. You’ve lost my vote.”

“You let us down and in all good conscience I an unable to support you in your bid to become a senator,” Jim Wilder posted. “I am ashamed of you and the fact that you are my congressional representative.”

“Being a registered Democrat and voting like a Republican, regardless of how much you say Donald Trump disgusts you is a big problem,” wrote David Compito. “One can only hope it will cost you votes.”

Not every comment was critical.

“I truly believe you are one of the few who actually think hard about the job you are doing in Washington, and how your presence will benefit your constituents and the country,” wrote Lela Rolfe. “Thank you for your hard work and conscientious voting.”

“Thank you for for the explanation,” Diana Hanford Demarest wrote. “I will share this with friends and ask them to do the same. You still have my vote and always will. I am very lucky to have you as my congressman after all the boneheads I had to endure in years past.”

Here is Murphy’s entire statement:

Many of you have expressed your concern and disappointment over my vote last week to tighten security for Syrian refugees. I hear you clearly, and it’s important to me to make sure you know I am listening. I strongly support the President’s efforts to accept Syrians fleeing oppression and massacre in Syria. Accepting refugees is a sacred American value, and I vehemently oppose those on the far right who would have us block refugees from our country. I am disgusted by suggestions from Donald Trump that we register people whose religious beliefs are different than his.

I’ve heard from many people who unfortunately believe my vote would close our doors to refugees. Nothing could be further from the truth. The bill I voted for did only two things:

1. 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.

I believe these two commonsense steps will ensure the safety of Americans and refugees, who do not want the terrorists they are fleeing slipping through our borders with them.

I have heard personally from many who are worried this will slow down the process. I believe any slowdown would be minimal, and you have my promise I will work to ensure that it is just that. You can count on me to always be listening to you, and I believe you will be proud of the work we will do together to ensure that refugees find a safe haven here in America.

Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at [email protected]



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