House Speaker Paul Ryan calls the omnibus spending bill a compromise that gives both sides of the aisle some of what it wants, but Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, says the bill is a non-starter because it doesn’t take the steps necessary to keep terrorists from entering the country.
“We took an oath. We’re supposed to protect this country, the Constitution. We’re supposed to provide for the common defense. We’ve got to take a stand here. It’s worth taking a stand to save American lives,” said Gohmert, a former judge and a current member of the House Judiciary Committee.
Of greatest concern to Gohmert is what he sees as Congress continuing to fund the refugee program without meaningful changes or taking a pause to re-evaluate how best to keep Islamic radicals away from America’s shores.
“The negotiators from the Senate intend to allow the risk of dramatic harm,” Gohmert told WND and Radio America in an interview. “The Senate is not agreeing to allow a pause in the visa waiver program that would wait until we can be sure that no terrorists are coming in with the refugees since ISIS says they’re sending in terrorists with the refugees.”
He said keeping the status quo in the face of such a threat is unacceptable.
“We have no way of vetting any of the Syrian refugees,” Gohmert said. “We can ask them questions, but we’ve got no way to check their answers. Most Americans get that. It’s only in Washington where we’re having a problem convincing people that are elected how important that is.”
The legislation does reportedly contain language to significantly tighten the general visa waiver program, which is separate from the evaluation of refugees. Gohmert said, on the surface, that’s a step in the right direction.
“That means countries are allowed to send people directly from their country into the United States without a visa, without us being able to check whether or not they’re actually a terrorist or a threat to us,” he said. “That needed to be suspended, and apparently there is a provision that will suspend that.”
However, the congressman said that’s not as much of an improvement as it seems.
“The trouble is, it’s now been reported that that has a massive hole in it,” Gohmert said. “Some of the countries like France and Belgium, where we know there are terrorists, they’re not going to be restricted. So they can send people straight from France to the United States without us getting a chance to check out their application.”
President Obama and many of his Democrat allies are opposed to any pause in the refugee program, with Obama repeatedly questioning the GOP’s purported toughness.
“Apparently they’re scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States of America as part of our tradition of compassion,” said Obama last month at the G-20 Summit in Turkey.
The omnibus compromise suggests Obama is not alone in that sentiment. Gohmert strongly bristles at the implication that pausing the refugee program over national security concerns is somehow un-American.
“When it comes to some moron saying, ‘That’s not who we are as Americans,’ traditionally who we are as Americans are people that are glad to have people come in if we knowingly grant them a visa as long as they’re not a threat to America,” Gohmert said.
He continued, “We’re a country where we’ll send people to die to fight for other people’s freedom. But we have not traditionally been a country that was so stupid that we welcomed terrorists in our midst to come kill us.”
Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas:
Gohmert said President Obama is the first president in centuries to miss the threat posed by Islamic radicals.
“Who we really are is a country that before President Obama’s administration, we didn’t want terrorists among us and we recognized radical Islam,” he said. “We knew it was a threat to us, going back to Thomas Jefferson. He knew that. It’s time for somebody in this administration to understand radical Islam is a threat.”
As evidence of the administration’s oblivious approach to the threat, Gohmert pointed to recent reports that the Department of Homeland Security refused to allow immigration officials to examine the public social media postings of people applying for entry into the U.S. It’s drawing fierce criticism after the FBI announced that San Bernardino terrorist Tashfeen Malik pledged her loyalty to ISIS and to jihadism on social media long before coming to America.
“The secretary of DHS (Jeh Johnson) is putting Americans at risk,” Gohmert said. “He has put us at risk. He’s continuing to put Americans at risk. It’s time American leaders were more concerned about the lives and safety of Americans than they are with their political agenda. Right now, their political agenda is trumping the safety of Americans.”
Gohmert said he plans to learn all he can about the omnibus package before votes are held, but right now the contents leave him only one option.
“If we’re not taking these steps in the omnibus to save American lives, then I would have to be a ‘no,'” Gohmert said. “That’s correct.”