Following the terrorist attacks in Paris last week, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan announced his intention to block the nation's intake of refugees from Syria, expressing concerns that terrorists from the region could use the program to gain entry to the United States.
At a news conference early in the week, Ryan said "we cannot allow terrorists to take advantage of our compassion. This is a moment where it is better to be safe than to be sorry." He rejected critical comments from President Barack Obama, who accused Republicans of "political posturing." Ryan called Obama's actions in the Syrian refugee crisis "remarkably unpresidential" during an appearance on Fox News.
On Thursday, the House passed a bill that would block Syrian and Iraqi refugees from entering the U.S. without first going through strict background checks. The White House pushed back against the bill. But the 289-137 vote was more than the two-thirds majority of those voting that would be needed to override a veto. Eight lawmakers did not vote on the bill, including two Republicans who could push the tally past the 290-vote mark needed for a two-thirds majority if all 435 members cast ballots.
Ryan had faced considerable pressure from Republicans to halt Syrian entry, with all of the GOP presidential candidates expressing support for limits on refugee intake. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee even called for the speaker to step down if unable to stop the flow of Syrian refugees, and Ben Carson penned a letter to Ryan asking for Congress to block funding for programs that resettle those fleeing Syria.
Ryan also weighed in on the GOP presidential field, anticipating a long-haul race that will prove unpredictable. He said it would be a mistake to dismiss the outsider candidates Ben Carson and Donald Trump.
But Ryan said he "can't imagine" how GOP frontrunner Donald Trump's call to detain and deport an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants would work, and said he does not support the plan. While the Janesville Republican expressed support for a pathway to legal status, he told "60 Minutes" he won't support a path to full citizenship.
Ryan said he remains open to working with the Obama Administration on other policy issues, including the federal budget and a highway funding bill.