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Monday, January 30, 2017

House GOP blocks debate on bill overturning immigration ban

House GOP blocks debate on bill overturning immigration ban
By Cristina Marcos - 01-30-17 18:47 PM EST

House GOP leadership blocked immediate consideration Monday of Democratic legislation to overturn President Trump's executive order restricting immigration from several Muslim-majority countries.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) sought unanimous consent on the House floor to take up a bill she introduced earlier in the day to rescind the executive order and block funds for its implementation.

But Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), who was presiding over House floor proceedings, cited longstanding House rules that prevent immediate consideration of bills that haven't been discussed by both parties' leadership.

"The chair is constrained not to entertain the request unless it has been cleared by the bipartisan floor and committee leaderships," Rogers told Lofgren.

Democrats in both the House and Senate have introduced bills to undo the new immigration restrictions, but GOP leaders haven't expressed interest in considering legislation to make changes to Trump's executive order.

Dozens of Republicans in both chambers have come out in opposition or expressed concernabout the executive order.

Lofgren cited Speaker Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) stated opposition to a ban on Muslim immigration that Trump originally proposed during his presidential campaign.

"In July last year, House Speaker Paul Ryan said that a religious test for entering our country is not reflective of America's values. Today, House Republicans had an opportunity to put those values to the test, but they failed," Lofgren said in a statement. "The demonization of Muslims and refugees is antithetical to American values of inclusion and tolerance."

Trump and Ryan maintain the executive order doesn't amount to a Muslim ban because it doesn't explicitly issue religious preferences.

Yet Trump told the Christian Broadcasting Network in a Friday interview that he wanted to prioritize refugee resettlement for Christians facing persecution in the Middle East.

"Christians in the Middle East have been executed in large numbers. We cannot allow this horror to continue!" Trump tweeted on Sunday.

The executive order temporarily blocks immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. It also indefinitely suspends the Syrian refugee resettlement program.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) also tried to seek unanimous consent on the Senate floor to consider a bill to repeal the executive order. As with the House, Schumer's consent request was blocked by Republicans.

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