Caitlin MacNeal

Caitlin MacNeal is a News Writer based in Washington, D.C. Before joining TPM, Caitlin interned and wrote for the Huffington Post, the Sunlight Foundation and Slate. She is a graduate of Georgetown University.

Articles by Caitlin

This post has been updated.

Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK) delivered a speech on the House floor Wednesday tearing into his colleagues' push to restrict Syrian refugees' ability to come to the U.S., arguing that such policies will make the U.S. like the Islamic State. Russell then on Thursday voted for a House bill to expand the vetting process for refugees from Syria and Iraq.

"While I have focused my comments on actions we should take to eliminate ISIS, one action we should not take is to become like them. America is a lamp that lights the horizon of civilized and free mankind. The Statue of Liberty cannot have a stiff arm. Her arm must continue to keep the torch burning brightly," he said in his floor speech.

"But if we use our passions and our anger, fear, and we use that to snuff our her flame by xenophobic and knee-jerk policy, the enemy wins. We have played into their hands. Period," he continued.

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During an interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity on Thursday night, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) continued to rail against President Obama for continuing to support the U.S. plan to bring Syrian refugees to the U.S., noting that terrorists would be encouraged to lie by the "religious philosophy in Islamism" in order to enter the U.S. posing as a refugee.

"It really is remarkable that twice this week, President Obama has attacked me directly," Cruz told Hannity, referring to the President's remarks bashing Cruz's proposal that the U.S. only allow Christian refugees from Syria into the U.S. "Obama, instead of defending this nation, just attacks you and me and every American who wants to keep this nation safe."

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After sending a letter to the Commerce Department on Friday about the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) refusal to turn over internal documents related to a climate study, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) on Wednesday sent another letter to Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, saying that the NOAA rushed the study to publication.

Smith, chairman of the House Science Committee, has been asking the NOAA since July to release internal communications between NOAA scientists regarding a study released in June that contradicted previous studies findings that global warming had slowed. The congressman said in October that the NOAA altered "the data to get the results they needed to advance this administration’s extreme climate change agenda.” The agency denied the accusation.

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Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy (D) on Wednesday criticized Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) for rejecting a Syrian refugee family expected to arrive in the state, noting the Indiana governor's support earlier this year for an anti-gay religious freedom bill.

Malloy noted that Pence does not have the legal power to block refugees from living in his state, but said he wasn't surprised by the Indiana governor's move.

"But this is the same guy who signed a homophobic bill in the spring surrounded by homophobes," Malloy told reporters, according to the Indianapolis Star. "So I’m not surprised by anything the governor does."

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Senate Democrats are pushing a legislative alternative to stopping the U.S. plan to accept Syrian refugees, which would place restrictions on which Europeans receive visa waivers.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), would keep Europeans who have traveled to Iraq or Syria in the past five years from entering the U.S. without a travel visa, according to The Hill. Under the visa waiver program, citizens from certain European countries can enter the U.S. for 90 days without a visa.

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Rhode Island state Sen. Elaine Morgan (R) wrote in a Tuesday email to a constituent and her fellow state senators that if the U.S. accepts refugees from Syria, they should be placed in refugee camps.

"I do not want our governor bringing in any Syrian refugees. I think our country is under attack. I think this is a major plan by these countries to spread out their people to attack all non Muslim persons," she wrote in the email, according to Rhode Island television station WPRI. "The Muslim religion and philosophy is to murder, rape, and decapitate anyone who is a non Muslim."

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The Chicago city council on Wednesday passed a symbolic resolution in favor of accepting Syrian refugees into the city despite Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner's (R) announcement that the state would stop accepting them, NBC Chicago reported.

"It cannot be in this moment when those in France have the courage to commit themselves to their values that we are weakened and walk away," Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said, according to NBC News. "I'm honored that we've done this resolution. I'm honored that here in Chicago we speak up for what's right."

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