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House Republicans Create Task Force On Syrian Refugees

House Speaker Paul Ryan speaks on Capitol Hill on Tuesday following a GOP strategy session.
J. Scott Applewhite
House Speaker Paul Ryan speaks on Capitol Hill on Tuesday following a GOP strategy session.

In response to last week's terrorist attacks in Paris, House Republicans have formed a task force charged with finding a legislative response to calm fears about Syrian refugees coming into the U.S.

Speaking on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan called the attacks "pure evil."

"It's clear that this was an act of war and that the world needs American leadership," he said.

Ryan called for a "pause" in the flow of Syrian refugees into the United States, to give Congress time to evaluate the national security risks and "verify that terrorists are not trying to infiltrate the refugee population." The current program will allow 10,000 additional Syrian refugees to enter the country next year.

Ryan joins more than half of U.S. governors and several presidential candidates in calling for a halt to the refugee program.

"Our nation has always been welcoming. But we cannot let terrorists take advantage of our compassion. This is a moment where it's better to be safe than to be sorry," Ryan said.

The task force, led by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and committee chairmen, is meeting daily.

Ryan said he wants the task force to come up with a legislative recommendation before a must-pass spending bill is due on Dec. 10.

He also called on the Obama administration to present a strategy for defeating, "not just containing," ISIS. "All of this rises above politics," he said.

Watch Ryan's full comments below:

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Amita Kelly is a Washington editor, where she works across beats and platforms to edit election, politics and policy news and features stories.
Susan Davis is a congressional correspondent for NPR and a co-host of the NPR Politics Podcast. She has covered Congress, elections, and national politics since 2002 for publications including USA TODAY, The Wall Street Journal, National Journal and Roll Call. She appears regularly on television and radio outlets to discuss congressional and national politics, and she is a contributor on PBS's Washington Week with Robert Costa. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Philadelphia native.