Iraqi special visa program expires

The House had included a one-year extension of the Iraqi visas in the stopgap funding measures that it passed on Saturday and Monday, but those were rejected by the Senate.

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Late Monday evening, with just minutes to go before the government shutdown, Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidBill O'Reilly: Politics helped kill Kate Steinle, Zarate just pulled the trigger Tax reform is nightmare Déjà vu for Puerto Rico Ex-Obama and Reid staffers: McConnell would pretend to be busy to avoid meeting with Obama MORE (D-Nev.) passed a three-month extension in a standalone bill by unanimous consent.

House GOP leaders have not yet indicated whether they will take up the standalone bill to extend the visas for three months. A spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric CantorEric Ivan CantorEric Cantor: Moore ‘deserves to lose’ If we want to make immigration great again, let's make it bipartisan Top Lobbyists 2017: Hired Guns MORE (R-Va.) did not respond to a request for comment.

The program to give Iraqis who helped the U.S. government Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) began in 2007, authorizing 5,000 visas annually. A similar program for Afghans who helped the U.S. allows for 1,500 visas per year and has already been extended through 2014.

Sens. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenDems demand Tillerson end State hiring freeze, consult with Congress The Hill Interview: GOP chairman says ‘red flags’ surround Russian cyber firm Schumer celebrates New York Giants firing head coach: ‘About time’ MORE (D-N.H.), John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat Meghan McCain knocks Bannon: 'Who the hell are you' to criticize Romney? Dems demand Tillerson end State hiring freeze, consult with Congress MORE (R-Ariz.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamGOP and Dems bitterly divided by immigration We are running out of time to protect Dreamers US trade deficit rises on record imports from China MORE (R-S.C.) and Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyAvalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign America isn't ready to let Sessions off his leash Your tax dollars fund Afghan child rape MORE (D-Vt.) had also tried last week to include a yearlong extension in the Senate’s continuing resolution (CR) as an amendment, but opted to push for a stand-alone bill when it became clear the CR wasn’t a feasible route.

The Senate had also included the visa extension in its immigration bill, which the House has not taken up.

Lawmakers argue that killing the visa program would break a promise made to Iraqis who have risked their lives to help the U.S. military.

 “We made a promise to thousands of Iraqi civilians who risked their lives helping our country during a time of war and now we must honor our commitment,” Shaheen said last week.

"When you talk to people I don't think anybody would oppose this," said Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), who has pushed the bill in the House. "When somebody puts their life on the line for our country, they ought to be repaid."