Watch Speaker Ryan’s Remarks on Terrorism & Freedom of Religion |

WASHINGTON — “Freedom of religion is a fundamental constitutional principle,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) said today at a press conference with House Republican leaders, where he discussed defeating the terrorist threat and living up to our highest ideals as Americans:

“Six days ago, our country witnessed the worst terrorist attack on our soil since September 11th. I know right now that many Americans feel unsafe and unsure. The people deserve to know that we are taking decisive action to protect ourselves and to tackle this threat. 

“The day after the Paris attacks, the Majority Leader, Leader McCarthy, put together a task force to weigh new actions that Congress could take, including recommendations made by our Homeland Security Committee. Mr. Hurd’s a member of this task force.

“First, the House voted to strengthen the certification requirements for our Syrian refugee program. That was a big, bipartisan vote—a veto override majority bipartisan vote. Today the House will vote to strengthen the nation’s visa-waiver program, another product of this task force. This will help neutralize the threat of foreign terrorists entering the country. We expect this to be another big, bipartisan vote.

“So we are coming together to tackle this threat, and we are ready to do more. That is why we need the president to put forward a real, comprehensive strategy to defeat—defeat, not contain—ISIS. On Sunday night, we heard the president defend staying the course. But why would we stay the course when the enemy is evolving? If we lead from behind, we will remain one step behind. Defeating the enemy is going to take time. It is going to take all of our heart and all of our might. But we will persevere, and make no mistake, we will win.

“Finally, when we voted to pause the refugee program a few weeks ago, I made very clear at the time there would be not a religious test. There would be a security test. That is because freedom of religion…freedom of religion is a fundamental constitutional principle, it's a founding principle of this country.

“Normally, I do not comment on what’s going on in the presidential election. I will take an exception today. 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. Not only are there many Muslims serving in our armed forces, dying for this country. There are Muslims serving right here in the House, working every day to uphold and defend the Constitution. Some of our best and biggest allies in this struggle and fight against radical Islamic terror are Muslims, the vast, vast, vast, vast majority of whom are peaceful, who believe in pluralism, freedom, democracy, individual rights.

“I told our members this morning to always strive to live up to our highest ideals, to uphold those principles in the Constitution on which we swear every two years that we will defend.”