With refugee bill, Ryan looks to settle restless House

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House Speaker Paul Ryan knew he had to quiet the din inside the House chamber Monday night to lead members in a moment of silence for the victims of the Paris terrorism attacks.

Ryan rapped the gavel a couple of times. The cacophony barely waned. The Wisconsin Republican immediately resorted to a tactic he may have used a time or two back home.

"Shhhhh!" he interjected.

The commotion on the floor ceased immediately and proceeded to the moment of silence.

With that singular, sibilant sound, Ryan distinguished himself from his predecessor, former Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. Boehner never "shushed" members when he needed to curtail the bedlam on the floor. Boehner would patiently tap the gavel, ask for order and then hammer the gavel a few more times. But Ryan's ploy brought order to the chamber RIGHT NOW.

Such is the case with House speakers. They have 434 other members who sometimes need to be hushed. Pacified. Guided.

And when you wield the speaker's gavel, this isn't just about knowing how to mute the aural cacophony in the chamber. It's about knowing how to address political firestorms to satisfy the membership. Ryan and Boehner may take different tacks on the dais, but they appear to use the same methods to mollify lawmakers.

Boehner honed the formula. A big issue would come racing down the pike. Boehner knew conservatives would demand a very particular approach. But Boehner also knew that gambit might stall in the Senate or face a veto. Boehner often engineered an artifice bill to sate the legislative appetite. While that bill usually served as red meat for the base, it wasn't a true legislative solution to whatever mega-issue loomed.

So Boehner perfected the art of frequently advancing a veneer bill for Republicans first -- and then a few days later bringing up a measure that actually addressed the problem, and could earn the president's signature, thus averting a crisis.

Paul Ryan hasn't occupied the speaker's suite long enough to mirror Boehner's parliamentary prototype. But there's a strong indication the measure the House plans to consider Thursday to restrict the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the U.S. mirrors Boehner's precedent.

Lawmakers fretted over the weekend that ISIS could execute a wide-scale, coordinated terrorist attack on U.S. soil like the one last week in Paris. They worried about a possible threat by refugees.

The GOP bill up Thursday would bolster screening for refugees fleeing the scourge of ISIS. House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, and Rep. Richard Hudson, R-N.C., crafted the measure. The bill freezes the admission of refugees to the U.S. until the FBI director, Homeland Security secretary and director of national intelligence "certifies to Congress that each refugee is not a security threat to the United States."

Some questioned the speed at which the House moved the McCaul/Hudson plan -- especially since Ryan spoke grandiloquently about adhering to "regular order" to advance legislation. That would require measures to methodically matriculate through committees. Instead, the GOP leadership rushed this plan to the floor. Some even wondered if the Republican effort may be left to an upcoming omnibus spending bill to fund the entire government due in three weeks.

"I don't think we have time to wait for funding bills," said Ryan on Fox News. "We have to do this now."

"Haste makes waste!" charged Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., at a meeting of the House Rules Committee Wednesday night.

The speed of this bill raises questions. There's a veto threat. Plus, it's unclear if this bill can clear two steep procedural hurdles to skate through the Senate. Either way, the Senate doesn't plan to touch this issue until at least early December.

Some lawmakers question just how effective this bill would be even if were signed into law. Then there's the practicality of the dash to pass a bill. What impact would it have on actually securing the U.S.? Migration officials say it takes a minimum of 18 to 24 months to vet Syrian refugee candidates. So, what's the rush?

"If you're a terrorist, are you going to sit there for 24 months or get on a damn airplane and come to the United States right now?" asked Rep. John Carter, R-Texas.

So, this bill may sprint through the House later today. But its future and impact could be dubious.

Still, Ryan's politically savvy enough to know the GOP brain trust needed to consider a bill before the Thanksgiving recess to at least provide the semblance of acting and not standing idly by.

On Monday night, Ryan demonstrated he knew how to quiet the sometimes rambunctious masses in the House with his "Shhhhh!" And Ryan also knew that forcing a debate and vote on this bill was another method to settle down lawmakers as well.

Capitol Attitude is a weekly column written by members of the Fox News Capitol Hill team. Their articles take you inside the halls of Congress, and cover the spectrum of policy issues being introduced, debated and voted on there.