U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees, released the following statement today after voting against consideration of the American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act (SAFE):
“Today I voted against consideration of a bill that would have labeled millions of innocent people fleeing the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II as enemies of the United States. Instead of allowing amendments that would actually keep Americans safer – including closing the terrorist gun loophole and increasing funding for anti-terror efforts by local law enforcement and airport security – Republicans would rather talk tough for political gain while doing nothing to strengthen our security.
“If Congress was really serious about keeping America ‘secure against foreign enemies’ we would be voting to authorize the war against our real enemy – ISIL. A debate and vote in Congress would show both our allies and adversaries that we are unified in our resolve against ISIL and committed to defeating the terrorist threat, while also sending an important signal of support to the more than 3,500 U.S. servicemembers we’ve deployed into harm’s way over the past 18 months.”
During hearings in both the Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees earlier today, Kaine pressed witnesses as to whether they believe ISIL or Syrian refugees are a bigger enemy to the United States. From retired General John Keane to former Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker, all agreed that ISIL is a bigger enemy to the United States than those fleeing violence in Syria and Iraq. Crocker went on to say that the United States has an obligation to lead on the global refugee crisis. “In my view,” Crocker said, “that means taking in a significant number of refugees. … I’m all for the vetting process. It’s essential. I’d just like to see it made more of a priority to be able to move refugees faster.”