President Barack Obama’s Syrian refugee program is driving a wedge through the Democratic Party, pitting liberal stalwarts against nervous Senate candidates and some senior lawmakers.

With the White House scrambling to defend its resettlement program and Republicans pressing to “pause” or even eliminate it, liberals were alarmed earlier this week when third-ranking Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York expressed openness to a time-out on resettling Syrian refugees...

...Other Senate Democrats, such as Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Chris Murphy of Connecticut, also defended the current refugee vetting methods and dismissed calls to stop the resettlement program.

All refugees admitted to the United States go through an extensive, multilayered background check system, a process that administration officials say usually takes 18 months to two years. But because the United States doesn’t have significant presence on the ground in Syria, there isn’t as much information available about the local population as officials would like. FBI Director James Comey has warned of “certain gaps” in the data used by the government to screen refugees.

Roughly 2,000 refugees from Syria have been admitted in the past four years.

“We have millions of people who have come in as refugees. We have a very vigorous program. We have a great success rate with it,” Menendez said. “I don’t know why we should change it now other than to continue to have the strong, secure vetting that is necessary to ensure that those who come ultimately come because they are truly seeking refuge.”

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