Under the leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the House passed a continuing resolution last week at the request of the Biden administration that includes $6.3 billion in funding for the resettlement of thousands of Afghans evacuated during the disastrous withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Afghanistan. The resolution also includes provisions regarding eligibility for green cards for the evacuees.
The proposed spending is part of a larger resolution to keep the federal government funded until December 3 as lawmakers continue to pass the fiscal year 2022. The House approved the resolution by a vote of 220-211, and the Senate was anticipated to take up the proposal this week.
As part of the bargaining process, the resolution included $28.6 billion in domestic disaster relief funding.
The allocation for the Afghan resettlement includes spending on temporary housing, permanent resettlement, and humanitarian assistance. According to the Biden administration, 95,000 refugees from Afghanistan are expected to enter the country during the following year.
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) is chair of the State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee and said that she was pleased to see the bill passed by the House. She added that over 18.4 million people inside Afghanistan require humanitarian aid because of war, drought, and the effects of the COVID pandemic.
Lee also said that the U.S. has a “moral responsibility to provide a safe harbor” to both refugees and those “suffering inside Afghanistan.”
The bill gives the Department of Homeland Security 150 days to decide on applications for asylum submitted by Afghan refugees. For those granted asylums, a green card can be approved after one year.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) said that the Biden administration is exempting Afghans from the normal screening process and proposing “unlimited green cards to people who didn’t serve alongside our troops.” Cotton also noted that the relaxed screening could “threaten our safety and health.”
Stephen Miller, who served as White House advisor to President Trump, said that the continuing resolution is “breathtaking in scope.” On Saturday, he told Fox News that it amounts to a “mass migration” bill with no connection to prior service to the U.S. or any qualifications for Special Immigrant Visas.