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Politicians grapple with how to fend off terror threats

In the wake of the San Bernardino shootings, the question of how to respond to terror is dominating Congress and the presidential race. The House reviewed the visa waiver program, and Democrats called for greater gun control measures. Meanwhile, lawmakers and the Obama administration rebuked Donald Trump, who called on Monday for a ban on all Muslims entering the country. Judy Woodruff reports.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    How to respond to the threat of terror? That question dominated action in Congress and the presidential race today.

    One response came in the House of Representatives late this afternoon, as lawmakers voted overwhelmingly for new curbs on who is admitted to enter the United States.

  • MAN:

    We must do everything possible to shut down terrorist pathways into this country.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    The push in the House was to end the practice of not requiring entrance visas for anyone who has been to Iraq or Syria, among other places, in recent years. Currently, people from 38 countries qualify for the visa waivers, but House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said that time has passed.

  • REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, House Majority Leader:

    You have more than 5,000 individuals that have Western passports in this program that have gone to Iraq or Syria in the last five years. Those are gaps that we need to fix.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Democrats joined in supporting the bill, but they also insisted the House address gun control.

  • REP. NANCY PELOSI, House Minority Leader:

    Enough is enough.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and others called for a ban on letting people buy guns if they are on a terrorism watch list.

  • REP. NANCY PELOSI:

    We must not only have moments of silence. We must have days of action. It's not just the high-profile occasions, as much as they challenge our conscience and tear at our heartstrings. It's the everyday violence in our country that must be addressed.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Some Republicans argued such a measure punishes people who are wrongly suspected of terrorist links.

    The debates on both guns and visas follow attacks by Islamist extremists last month in Paris and last week in San Bernardino, California, as well as other mass shootings.

    A more drastic response came Monday from Donald Trump, the Republican presidential front-runner.

  • DONALD TRUMP, Republican Presidential Candidate:

    Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Many of his Republican rivals took issue with Trump, as did Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan today.

    REP. PAUL RYAN, Speaker of the House: This is not conservatism. What was proposed yesterday is not what this party stands for. And, more importantly, it's not what this country stands for.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    The Obama administration blasted Trump's statement. The secretaries of state and homeland security issued rebukes, and the Pentagon warned that such calls feed the Islamic State's claim that America is at war with Islam.

    White House spokesman Josh Earnest went even further.

  • JOSH EARNEST, White House Press Secretary:

    The Trump campaign, for months now, has had a dustbin-of-history-like quality to it, from the vacuous sloganeering, to the outright lies, even the fake hair, the whole carnival barker routine that we have seen for some time now. What Donald Trump said yesterday disqualifies him from serving as president.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    The Trump statement also came in for sharp criticism today from a number of foreign governments.

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