JUST IN -- House overwhelmingly approves 'VETO-PROOF' bipartisan bill to block Syrian refugees, require more vetting
Washington (CNN) -- The House easily passed a bill Thursday that would suspend the program allowing Syrian and Iraqi refugees into the U.S. until key national security agencies certify they don't pose a security risk.
The vote was 289-137, with 47 Democrats joining 242 Republicans in favor of the bill, creating a majority that could override President Barack Obama's promised veto. It also faces an uncertain future in the Senate, where Minority Leader Harry Reid said he will try to block the bill.
The high number of Democrats voting against the White House is a clear sign Obama is increasingly isolated in his position on refugees in light of the ISIS terrorist attacks on Paris.
During his trip abroad this week, Obama has offered a forceful defense of the program and derided Republican opponents as being scared of "widows and orphans."
"We are not well served when, in response to a terrorist attack, we descend into fear and panic," Obama said in the Philippines on Wednesday. "We don't make good decisions if it's based on hysteria or an exaggeration of risks."
Republicans were determined to move quickly. House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters "this is urgent. We cannot and should not wait to act, not when our national security is at stake."
The administration's veto threat "baffles me," Ryan said, "especially given the fact that his own law enforcement top officials came to Congress and testified that there are gaps in this refugee program.
Obama administration officials have been lobbying Democrats to oppose the measure.
FBI Director James Comey has expressed deep concerns about the bill, two U.S. officials tell CNN. Comey has told administration and congressional officials that the legislation would make it impossible to allow any refugees into the U.S., and could even affect the ability of travelers from about three dozen countries that are allowed easier travel to the U.S. under the visa waiver program, the officials say.
There are always risks in allowing any foreigners into the U.S., Comey told the officials, adding that the FBI believes it has an effective process with intelligence and other agencies to conduct vetting of refugees.