Update on Lautenberg Amendment and Refugee Funding

On January 13, appropriators introduced a $1.1 trillion government spending bill (H.R. 3547) which is expected to move through the House and Senate later this week. The bill includes a one-year extension of the Lautenberg Amendment, which previously expired on September 30th. This important legislation, which facilitates the resettlement of religious minority groups including Jews seeking to flee Iran, will now be extended through September 2014 and as usual it will be retroactive to the beginning of this Fiscal Year. The omnibus bill also includes funding for the U.S. Refugee Program, which has been a matter of great concern to refugee resettlement advocates, particularly given the growing number of unaccompanied alien children (UACs) fleeing violence in Central America. The bill includes an increase in funding for the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) and an additional $3 billion to help Syrian refugees, but with the rising number of UACs, funding for refugee resettlement will likely be a challenge this year.