Rep. Ryan explains why he supports the Syrian refugee bill

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," November 20, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST:  All right, you know this message -- this measure in the House that passed overwhelmingly to sort of cool it on how we`re going about bringing Syrian refugees to this country.

At first, it looked like a partisan affair, until we discovered that 47 Democrats also voted for that bill, including this next fellow, the fine Democrat from Ohio Tim Ryan.

Congressman, good to have you.

REP. TIM RYAN, D-OHIO:  Good to be with you, Neil.

CAVUTO:  Did anyone at the White House call you, sir, and want to brief you or explain to you what was going on, it would be a mistake to vote ultimately as you did?

RYAN:  No.  There was a briefing that morning of the vote where the White House came in, but there was no direct call.

CAVUTO:  OK.  So after the vote, was there?

RYAN:  No.

CAVUTO:  All right, did Nancy Pelosi or anyone in leadership talk to you and say, really wish you wouldn`t have done this?

RYAN:  No.  No.  No one said anything.  It was the last vote of the week, so I cast the vote and went home.

CAVUTO:  Were you surprised that 46 other Democrats joined you?

RYAN:  I really wasn`t.

I actually thought there was going to be more because the legislation was very straightforward.  All it said was that the head of the FBI, the head of the national intelligence, and the head of the homeland security needed to sign off to make sure that the folks coming in weren`t terrorists and then report to Congress rather frequently about these things.

So, I was surprised that more actually didn`t vote for it because it was to straightforward.  And I think a lot of us are fine with the refugees coming to our country.  We want to be helpful.  We just want to make sure that they`re not terrorists.  There is a good process in place, but there was, in my estimation, this legislation was just going to add an extra protection, have the head of the agencies sign off on it.

We`re fine.  America has always been fine taking in refugees.  I`m OK with it.  I just want to make sure they`re not terrorists.

CAVUTO:  Well, sir, the president is not.  He`s promised to veto this.  
What do you think?

RYAN:  Well, I think he could make this work.  I really do.

To me, this isn`t going to slow down the process.  It`s just an extra layer of protection.  I don`t think really -- everyone was saying there`s a pause.  As I read it, I didn`t think there was going to be a whole lot of a pause.  It`s just an extra protection, and I think it can happen.

What it is doing, Neil, is, I think it`s taking the focus away from some of the real challenge that we`re having.  We had between 2004 and 2014 over
2,000 people who are on the terrorist watch list try to get a gun.  And 91 percent of them got a gun.

That`s a major issue in the United States that we`re not talking about right now.  The visa waiver program of European nationals coming to the United States, maybe being a European national, going to Syria, coming back, and then having a less stringent vetting process than the refugees will have, that`s a major issue.

So this is really -- while I`m for the extra protection, I think it`s OK, I think it`s necessary, it`s really distracting us from the real issues that I think at the end of the day would be keeping our country a lot safer.

CAVUTO:  Congressman Ryan, thank you for taking the time.  We appreciate that.

RYAN:  Thanks, Neil.


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