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Gov’t funding bill gives ‘unlimited Afghan refugee resettlement’ with ‘zero vetting,’ Sen. Hagerty says

Evacuees stage before boarding a C-17 Globemaster III during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Afghanistan, Aug. 18, 2021. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Nicholas Guevara)
October 01, 2021

Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) said on Thursday that the Democrat-led continuing resolution contains language in the bill that he says provides “unlimited refugee resettlement from Afghanistan.”

“In light of @SenTomCotton’s amendment to the government funding bill failing, I have no choice but to oppose this dangerous bill from the Democrats,” Haggerty tweeted. “It opens the U.S. to unlimited refugee resettlement from Afghanistan with zero vetting, putting our security at even greater risk.”

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) had submitted an amendment to the continuing resolution that would have put caps on the benefits provided to Afghan Special Immigrant Visa holders now in the U.S. His amendment would have also cut off funding for housing, food, medical aid and other assistance after March 31, 2023.

Cotton’s amendment would have also countered a provision in the spending bill that allows Afghan refugees to get driver’s licenses or identification cards without some of the normally required documents. His amendment instead states licenses and IDs may be given out in accordance with Section 202 of the REAL ID Act of 2005, which describes “the minimum document requirements and issuance standards for federal recognition.”

The Senate voted in a 50-50 party-line vote on Cotton’s amendment, falling one vote short of the simple majority threshold needed to pass. The continuing resolution ultimately passed both houses of Congress on Thursday and President Joe Biden signed it into law. The overall continuing resolution provides government funding until December 3.

In a Thursday press release, Haggerty said, “With a raging immigration and border security crisis at our southern border, threatening our national security, Democrats hijacked this funding bill and snuck in a provision that would allow for unlimited resettlement of refugees to the U.S. with the thinnest of ties to Afghanistan, with inadequate vetting, zero time constraints, and conferring welfare benefits indefinitely, which I cannot support.” 

“Let me be clear: these are the types of things that are slipped into legislation when the Appropriations Committee has been sidelined like it has under the Democrat majority,” Hagerty continued. “As a member of this committee, I believe strongly that we ought to be conducting oversight and making the tough choices necessary to provide only for essential government funding. Instead of doing the basic work of the American people, Democrats have been far too focused on completely transforming the American economy—and our immigration laws—into cradle-to-grave government dependency. It’s time for this to end.”

On Thursday, former President Donald Trump called on Republican lawmakers to oppose the continuing resolution, saying, “This is not a ‘clean’ government funding bill. It’s a major immigration rewrite that allows Biden to bring anyone he wants from Afghanistan for the next year—no vetting, no screening, no security—and fly them to your community with free welfare and government-issued IDs.”

Concerns about vetting for Afghan refugees in the U.S. come after tens of thousands were evacuated from Afghanistan in August, after the Taliban retook control of the country.

Last week, a female Fort Bliss soldier supporting Operation Allies Welcome — the U.S. military mission to evacuate Afghan civilians and bring them to the U.S. — was assaulted by a group of male Afghanistan evacuees at Fort Bliss’s Doña Ana Range Complex in New Mexico.