Politicians in the US have blocked a bill that would have made it harder for Syrian and Iraqi refugees to enter the country.
The result of Wednesday’s vote was 55-43, with “yes” votes falling short of the 60 needed after Democrats refused to support the Republican-backed measure in the 100-member Senate.
No Republicans voted against the bill, and only two Democrats backed it.
Among other things, the bill would have required high-level US officials to verify that each refugee from Iraq and Syria posed no security risk before they were allowed into the US.
Republicans said the tighter screening was essential to ensure the safety of Americans and prevent attacks within the country by Islamic State and other militant groups.
“This bipartisan bill would allow Washington to step back, take a breath and ensure it has the correct policies and security screenings in place,” Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in the Senate before the vote.
But Democrats called the proposed legislation an attack on refugees and accused Republicans of holding the vote to allow their 2016 presidential candidates in the Senate to be seen backing legislation touted as tough on security.
All three of the Senate Republican 2016 presidential hopefuls, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio, backed the bill.
US President Barack Obama had threatened to veto the legislation if it cleared Congress.
Obama in September promised the US would accept 10,000 Syrian refugees within one year.
Source: Al Jazeera and Reuters