The U.S. House has overwhelmingly passed a bill that would restrict access to visa waivers for some foreign travelers. The chamber voted 407-19 in favor of the legislation, with all of those voting 'no' being Democrats.
About 20 million residents of foreign countries use the visa waiver program in question, which allows tourists from 38 countries, including the UK and France, to stay in the U.S. for 90 days without a visa. Those who use the program are screened less stringently, although they are checked against American databases.
The bill that passed through the House Tuesday would not allow those who would typically qualify for the program to enter the U.S. without a visa if they have traveled to Syria, Iraq or other countries that have been deemed terrorist nerve centers in the last five years. Foreign travelers would also be denied via waivers if they are citizens of the aforementioned countries. The visa waiver program has come under fire after it was determined that the individuals responsibe for last month's Paris attacks were European nationals.
"We simply cannot give people from other countries special access to our country if we don't have all of the information that we absolutely need to ensure that they are not a threat to national security," said the bill's author U.S. Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI,10).
A similar bill in the Senate is expected to pass with support from the White House.