The White House says the legislation would introduce "unnecessary and impractical requirements" that would harm efforts to assist some of the world's most vulnerable people.

The bill would add a new requirement for FBI background checks. It does not call for ending the refugee program or require religious screenings, as some Republicans have demanded.

Obama, who is travelling in Asia, has been sharply critical of Republicans for trying to bar Syrian refugees following the Paris attacks.

The House is set to vote on the legislation today. Democratic leaders have turned against it, saying it would essentially keep refugees out of the US entirely.

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