WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday the Syrian refugee issue will likely be addressed in a must-pass government funding bill this month.
The Republican leader said the spending bill was a "work in progress" but that "the refugee issue is likely to be dealt with in some way" in that legislation, which faces a Dec. 11 deadline for passage by Congress.
McConnell did not say whether the spending bill, needed to avert a government shutdown after Dec. 11, would have language to further tighten controls on Syrians seeking asylum in the United States or instead focus on revising a "visa waiver" program. That program allows travelers from a few dozen countries, many in western Europe, to come to the United States without going through a visa process.
Security experts say loopholes in that program offer greater opportunity for Islamic State militants or others to slip into the country.
The House of Representatives last month passed a bill requiring the director of the FBI and other high-level officials to certify that each Syrian refugee being allowed into the United States presents no security risk.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Republican, said the measure would delay the U.S. program to admit refugees by at least six months and critics of the bill argue it would make the program impossible to administer.
(Reporting by Susan Cornwell and Richard Cowan; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Eric Beech)