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 ReidRepublican failure Senate about to enter 'nuclear option' death spiral Top GOP senator: 'Tragic mistake' if Democrats try to block Gorsuch 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 CantorA path forward on infrastructure Democrats step up calls that Russian hack was act of war Paul replaces Cruz as GOP agitator 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 Shaheen Jeanne ShaheenOvernight Finance: WH wants to slash billions | Border wall funding likely on hold | Wells Fargo to pay 0M over unauthorized accounts | Dems debate revamping consumer board Path to 60 narrows for Trump pick Overnight Finance: Trump stock slump | GOP looks to tax bill for lifeline | Trump repeals 'blacklisting rule' | Dem wants ethics probe into Treasury secretary MORE (D-N.H.), John McCainJohn McCainSenate braces for fallout over Supreme Court fight Republicans seek to lower odds of a shutdown Nunes endures another rough day MORE (R-Ariz.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamSenate braces for fallout over Supreme Court fight Republicans seek to lower odds of a shutdown GOP torn over what to do next MORE (R-S.C.) and Patrick LeahyPatrick LeahySenate braces for fallout over Supreme Court fight Register of copyrights should be presidential appointee GOP senator on going nuclear: 'I really hope that it doesn't come to that' 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."