Bill to Strengthen Security of Visa Waiver Program Overwhelmingly Passes House

Cortney O'Brien
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Posted: Dec 09, 2015 12:00 PM
Bill to Strengthen Security of Visa Waiver Program Overwhelmingly Passes House

The recent terror attacks across the nation and worldwide have urged our lawmakers, both Republicans and Democrats, to take a closer look at the Visa Waiver Program, which allows foreign visitors from 38 countries to enter the United States without a visa for 90 days. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) called the process “the soft underbelly of our national security policies” and is working on a bill with Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) that would bar any individual who has traveled to Syria or Iraq in the past five years from entering the U.S. without a visa.

Homeland Security Subcommittee Chairman Candice Miller (R-MI) felt the visa waiver process needed a facelift even before the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino. She introduced the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 to expand the criteria by which a country may be removed from the program and better ensure terrorists aren't pouring through our borders and it was voted out of committee in June. On Tuesday, it passed the House in an overwhelmingly bipartisan fashion, 407-19, giving them a veto-proof majority. 

Miller celebrated the victory in a new statement, reminding Americans that when it comes to national security, travel documents deserve just as much scrutiny as weapons:

“The 9/11 Commission said that ‘for terrorists, travel documents are as important as weapons.’ I couldn’t agree more,” said Subcommittee Chairman Miller. “Today, the House took a very important step by passing legislation that addresses known vulnerabilities with our Visa Waiver Program by giving America the leverage it needs to ensure that all participating countries are sharing critical information necessary to stop enemies of freedom from exploiting our hospitality. It is my hope that today’s strong bipartisan vote on this bill will send a clear message to terrorists that America is prepared to take any and all measures to protect our Homeland.”

Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX), who has been very vocal about his opposition to the White House's Syrian refugee program, commended the House for passing Miller's critical legislation.

"This legislation will help close gaping security gaps and improve our ability to stop dangerous individuals before they reach our shores."

While the Obama administration has resisted attempts by Congress to slow down the Syrian refugee program, they have appeared to find some common ground when it comes to increasing the security of our visa waiver process.