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STATEMENT: MoveOn reacts to omnibus spending bill and victory on refugees

Statement from MoveOn.org Washington Director Ben Wikler on the omnibus spending bill:

“The decisive rejection of anti-refugee provisions in the spending bill represents a genuine victory for American values, security, and common sense. The Statue of Liberty is standing a little taller today.

“The right’s ugly rush to pass laws scapegoating refugee families has collapsed, at least for this year, and ISIL has been denied a propaganda talking point. As a result, America is a better and safer place.

“While disgracefully hateful rhetoric has been on the rise in recent weeks, there has also been a backlash to the backlash. MoveOn members nationwide have joined faith leaders, security experts, and other community members in an outcry against the un-American rush to attack families seeking refuge and peace in the United States. We’re glad that the wave of pro-refugee vigils, rallies, and phone calls pierced the din of fear and reached the ears of lawmakers. And we’re grateful that Democrats refused to give in to misguided demagoguery and, instead, took a stand for what’s best in the American tradition.

“While progressives are grateful that the spending bill does not slam the door on families seeking refuge, we are disappointed by several riders in the omnibus. In particular, we share the concerns of allies about discriminatory provisions in the visa waiver program reforms, the lifting of the oil export ban, and other gifts to special interests.

“While we are pleased that the refugee resettlement program is intact and will be funded at a higher level than the president’s request, and slightly higher levels than in 2015, the United States should be doing far more. Instead of debating whether to back away from its existing commitments, America should take a leadership role in refugee resettlement—welcoming 100,000 Syrian and 100,000 non-Syrian refugees, in line with calls from civil society groups, and appropriating the funds necessary to safely vet and resettle them.

“Nonetheless, the decisive rejection of anti-refugee provisions in the spending bill is a triumph of conscience over fear. Every lawmaker who stood firm in supporting refugees families has our gratitude.”