WASHINGTON – Congressman Rob Wittman (R-VA-1) announced today that he is taking a number of legislative and other steps to minimize the threat that terrorist attacks like those in Paris could happen on U.S. soil.
In April of this year, Wittman introduced the International Conflicts of Concern Act (H.R. 1929), a bill to protect the United States by establishing a framework to temporarily restrict the travel of U.S. citizens to countries of conflict where they may radicalize and then return home to carry out an attack.
“Friday’s horrific events were perpetrated in part by radicalized French nationals on French soil,” Wittman said. “In light of those events, we cannot continue to ignore the fact that recruitment is a significant tool in ISIS’ arsenal of weapons. Terrorism is an evolving threat, and in order to defeat it, we must anticipate and prevent that evolution. There are already more than 100 documented Americans fighting with terrorist organizations in Syria and Iraq. It is essential that we have a mechanism in place to reduce the risk that U.S. citizens will travel overseas, train, and then return home to carry out acts of violence against the American people.”
The International Conflicts of Concern Act would prohibit unauthorized personnel from traveling or distributing material support to entities engaged in armed conflict within those countries designated as countries of conflict concern. The legislation would automatically designate Syria as a country of conflict concern for a one-year period. Perpetrators would be subject to both civil and criminal penalties including up to a 20-year term in prison. This legislation would still allow for legitimate travel by licensed humanitarian aid workers and other groups with the necessary level of clearance.
Congressman Wittman also announced that he will cosponsor the Refugee Resettlement Oversight and Security Act of 2015 (H.R. 3573). Introduced by Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security Michael McCaul, the bill would require the President to get approval from Congress before moving forward with any refugee resettlement plan and, if approval is granted, require the Department of Homeland Security to work with the Director of National Intelligence and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to establish an effective security vetting process for refugees. The legislation would also mandate that the President give priority to refugees who have been the target of faith-based persecution in Iraq and Syria.
“Now more than ever, Americans are concerned about the resettlement of thousands of refugees in the United States without adequate screening or background check processes,” Wittman said. “ISIS has made clear its intention to use refugee resettlement program as an outlet for terrorist infiltration, and yet the President has remained stalwart in his decision to move forward with the resettlement process. This legislation will offer Congress the opportunity to pump the brakes on the President’s plan and implement important security measures that will protect not only American citizens but also innocent refugees.”
Wittman has also joined with a number of his Congressional colleagues in sending a letter urging the President to halt the admission of Iraqi and Syrian refugees to the United States until adequate vetting procedures can be identified and implemented.
Congressman Rob Wittman represents the 1st District of Virginia. He serves on the House Natural Resources Committee and the House Armed Services Committee, where he is Chairman of the Readiness Subcommittee.
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