House Speaker Ryan: 'Pause' Needed in Resettling Syrian Refugees

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
By Alex Moe and Luke Russert

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan believes it is necessary for a “pause” in Syrian refugees coming to the United States following the terrorist attacks in Paris late last week.

“This is a moment where it is better to be safe than to be sorry so we think the prudent, responsible thing is to take a pause in this particular aspect of this refugee program in order to verify that terrorists are not trying to infiltrate the refugee population,” Ryan said during a press conference Tuesday morning following a closed door House GOP conference meeting.

To respond to the refugee issue, the House Republican Leadership will move to set up a task force on counterterrorism and homeland security — consisting of Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and the relevant committee chairmen. The group will be tasked with figuring out the best way for the U.S. to address the Syrian refugee crisis both in the short and long term.

Related: Obama Doubles Down on ISIS Strategy After Paris Attacks

Ryan said it is his hope that some type of bipartisan legislation hits the House floor by the end of the week. He acknowledged a sense of urgency for the legislation so it would not bump up against the government funding bill due December 11th.

“We want to work and act on this faster than that,” Ryan told reporters.

Any legislation that seeks to limit the ability of the U.S. to welcome refugees fleeing Syria will likely be opposed by the White House.

Ryan also made the distinction that the attacks in Paris were “pure evil” and “an act of war.”

Pressed if this recent “act of war” by ISIS — which would require Congress to debate and pass a new authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) specifically for ISIS — the speaker said President Obama had the authority to conduct operations against the Islamic terrorist group under the 2001 AUMF originally intended for the “war on terror” in Afghanistan.

“We have the authority right now under the existing AUMF and we will revisit all of these issues later,” Ryan said.

Related: More Governors Seek To Ban Syrian Refugees After Paris Massacre

Asked by NBC News if American boots on the ground are needed to defeat ISIS, the Speaker said “all options should be placed upon the table” and available to the commander-in-chief.

Ryan continued to reiterate his call that President Obama needs to put forth a comprehensive strategy to defeat not just contain ISIS, noting that the “world needs American leadership.”

“Containing ISIS is not enough," he said. "Defeating ISIS is what is necessary and we do not have that comprehensive plan in place.”