Legislation designed to strengthen the existing Visa Waiver Program was lumped into the massive omnibus bill. The Visa Waiver Program currently allows foreign nationals holding citizenship from any of the 38 participating countries (there are a few other qualifying factors) to bypass consular processing in order to request entry to the U.S..

Though the House bill was introduced in January, the terrorist attacks in Paris last month prompted Congress to consider legislation designed to strengthen the existing Visa Waiver Program of which France is a particpant and, “help prevent terrorists from entering the United States,” said Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ).

USA Today reported Wednesday:

The visa-waiver provisions were included in a 2009-page spending bill to fund the federal government until next October. The House and Senate are expected to vote on the bill without changes by Dec. 22.

I read both the House and Senate version of the bill last week and outlined them in painful detail here. In sum, the bill could be a little stronger, but it makes solid, substantive reforms to the existing visa waiver program.

And yeah, the omnibus bill…

But we’ll save that for another post.

In a Congressional hearing discussing the Visa Waiver Program last week, Homeland Security Officials had zero answers regarding the safety, exit rate, and other vital statitstics of the existing program. TRIGGER WARNING: this is painful/infuriating to watch.

Thankfully, these reforms are a step in the right direction.

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