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Senate Dems Block GOP Bill Tightening Entry For Syrian Refugees

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AP Photo / Petros Giannakouris

Nearly all Democrats voted against the Security Against Foreign Enemies Act, which earned bipartisan support in the lower chamber last year when it passed the House with 289 votes. The bill would have barred Syrian refugees from entering the country until the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security certified each individual did not pose a risk to the safety of the United States.

Two Democrats, Sens. Joe Manchin (WV) and Heidi Heitkamp (ND), supported it. President Barack Obama had threatened to veto the bill.

In the wake of the terrorist attack in Paris, the issue of refugee screening emerged as a major issue both on Capitol Hill and on the campaign trail. Donald Trump has suggested that the U.S. should go much further than simply making it harder for Syrian refugees to move to the U.S., and that the government should ban all Muslims from entering the country under any circumstance.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) called Wednesday morning for Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to also hold a vote Wednesday on Trump's proposed religious test. McConnell declined that request.

Republican presidential contenders Sens. Ted Cruz (TX), Marco Rubio (FL) and Rand Paul (KY) all voted to support the bill. According to the Associated Press, Cruz canceled campaign events to make the vote. Democratic presidential contender Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) also was there and voted against it.