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Senate Judiciary Committee: No Religious Test for Immigrants

The Senate Judiciary Committee has passed a "Sense of the Senate" resolution that there will be no religious test for immigrants to this country. The bipartisan vote was 16-4, including Republican committee chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa).

That came as an amendment, offered up by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), appended to S. 1318, the Nuclear Terrorism Conventions Implementation and Safety of Maritime Navigation Act of 2015, which was being marked up in the committee Thursday. "Lets formally reject this call for closing borders to Muslims," said Leahy.

The resolution was prompted by GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, who stirred up a hornet's nest of criticism by saying there should be a moratorium on Muslim immigrants in the wake of terrorist attacks and questions about the efficacy of the Visa screening process.

In supporting the bill, Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) talked about Trump wanting to close down houses of worship and bar immigrants from a single religion. He also pointed out that Trump had cited Franklin Roosevelt as justification.

The markup was overtaken by the issue of Trump's comments, with Democratic Senators repeatedly saying excluding people on the basis of religion was intolerable and not what the country stood for.

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) called Trump's comments "disgusting, outrageous and un-American."

Only Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) fought hard against the Leahy amendment, saying it was overbroad.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.