Congress tackles terrorism after Paris attacks

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Article Summary
Following Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris, this week Congress will be addressing issues related to a rise in radicalism and President Obama’s plans to increase the number of refugees admitted from war-torn countries.

Congress will delve deeply into the global threat of radical Islam this coming week following the worst terrorist attack in French history.

The House Foreign Affairs and House Homeland Security panels will hold a joint hearing on Wednesday on the "Rise of Radicalism: Growing Terrorist Sanctuaries and the Threat to the U.S. Homeland." Witnesses include former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and former National Counterterrorism Center Director Matthew Olsen, along with New America Director Peter Bergen.

The attackers' apparent links to Syria are certain to come up as Congress continues to push back against President Barack Obama's plan to bring in up to 10,000 refugees from the war-torn country over the next year. The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the issue on Thursday.

Lawmakers critical of Obama's proposal immediately raised the specter of a Paris-style attack happening in the United States.

The Republican presidential candidates also weighed in; Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, called the president's proposal "lunacy" following the terror attack.

On Tuesday, the Foreign Affairs Committee's terrorism panel examines terror financing, with a particular focus on kidnapping and antiquities smuggling. The House passed legislation in June to crack down on looting in Syria, but it is stuck in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The House Armed Services Committee meanwhile holds a hearing Tuesday seeking "Outside Views on the Strategy for Iraq and Syria." Witnesses include John McLaughlin, former acting director of central intelligence, and former Ambassador to Syria and Iraq Ryan Crocker.

The hearing will shed light on this weekend's meeting of world powers in Vienna concerning the future of Syria. The United States and other countries with a stake in the war's outcome agreed on a timetable for a transition government in six months and elections in 18 months, but the presence of Iran at the negotiating table has infuriated congressional hawks.

Finally, panels of the House Transportation and Agriculture committees hold a joint hearing on food aid reform. Critics of the current policy's reliance on US-registered vessels have argued that it has made the humanitarian situation in Syria even worse.

"From Syria to the Philippines to Nepal, we’ve seen the limitations of U.S. international food aid programs," House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Rocye, R-Calif., said at a hearing last month. "Our food aid costs too much, takes too long to arrive, and can do more long-term damage than short-term good.”

Found in: terrorist attacks, syrian refugees, syrian conflict, paris attack, is, humanitarian assistance, congress, barack obama

Julian Pecquet is Al-Monitor's Washington Editor. He was previously Congressional Correspondent from 2014 through May 2017 and most recently before that headed up The Hill's Global Affairs blog. On Twitter: @JPecquet_ALM, Email: jpecquet@al-monitor.com.

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