Boost in Afghan visas blocked in Senate
© Greg Nash
An agreement to increase the number of visas for Afghan interpreters fell apart in the Senate on Thursday. 
 
Lawmakers tried to include in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) a deal to increase the number of visas for Afghans who served as interpreters to U.S. officials and increase Guantánamo Bay restrictions.
 
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"I'll support both of them, but all I'm asking for is to give me a vote on my amendment as well," he added. 
 
Lee is offering a bipartisan amendment to make it illegal to indefinitely detain U.S. citizens on U.S. soil, arguing his proposal relates to the "most fundamental protections in the United States constitution." 
 
Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainWhoopi Goldberg wears 'my vice president' shirt day after inauguration Budowsky: Democracy won, Trump lost, President Biden inaugurated Schumer becomes new Senate majority leader MORE (R-Ariz.) blasted the move, saying senators were blocking a "moral obligation" and are "literally signing the death warrants" of the interpreters for their "own selfish reasons." 
 
"Don't you understand what's at stake here?" McCain said to Lee on the Senate floor.
 
"This is a matter of life and death. ... So I appeal to the senator from Utah's humanity, to his compassion." 
 
The amendment, from Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenBipartisan Senate gang to talk with Biden aide on coronavirus relief Bipartisan group of senators: The election is over Seven Senate races to watch in 2022 MORE (D-N.H.), would authorize an additional 2,500 visas for Afghans who served as interpreters to U.S. troops and officials during the war to come to the United States as part of the defense policy bill. 
 
The Senate had been expected to take up Shaheen's amendment alone, but McCain indicated Thursday afternoon that it would be moved, along with restrictions on Guantánamo Bay. 
 
 
While the legislation keeps in place a ban on moving detainees into the United States, Moran said Thursday the administration had failed to handover a "plan of any specificity" to Congress about closing Guantánamo. 
 
Lee offered to allow the two amendments to get taken up if he could also get a vote on his amendment. 
 
Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump selects South Carolina lawyer for impeachment trial Democrats formally elect Harrison as new DNC chair McConnell proposes postponing impeachment trial until February MORE (R-S.C.), objected, noting the last time a hearing was held on Lee's proposal was 2012, and offered to give him a hearing in the Judiciary Committee. 
 
"I strongly disapprove of having this debate without another hearing, of going down this road because so much has changed," Graham added. "If you're an American citizen and you're in al Qaeda, I hope you get killed too."
 
More than 500 amendments to the defense policy bill have been filed; most haven't gotten a vote.