Biden asks for funding to help bring 95,000 Afghans to US

The Biden administration is planning to ask Congress for funding to bring some 95,000 Afghans to America and assist in resettling them — a sign both of U.S. commitments to allies and the likelihood that efforts to evacuate them will linger for months.

The White House is asking for $6.4 billion through a continuing resolution to fund ongoing efforts to get allies and other vulnerable Afghans out of the country.

A senior administration official said those funds would be used to help bring 65,000 Afghans to the U.S. by the end of September as well as another 30,000 who may come over the course of the next year.

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“The U.S. government will continue to press the Taliban to uphold our commitment to ensure safe passage for those remaining Americans who want to leave and for Afghans who worked with and support us,” the official said on the call.

“The majority of the funds requested are for DOD and State to support overseas sites, like Ramstein in Germany, and sites in the United States as well as transportation for allies and partners between those overseas sites and the United States,” they said, referring to the departments of Defense and State.

The funding indicates that so-called lily pad sites, overseas bases used to house evacuated Afghans as they await vetting to enter the U.S., will be operational for months on end.

The official said the funding for the overseas sites “shows the commitment to continue that work to ensure that we have the facilities that will be necessary so that individuals who do continue to depart from Afghanistan have certain locations to which to go for the same process that those already evacuated have gone through, including the critical step of security screening and vetting.”

The funding request includes $2.4 billion for Defense Department bases and personnel while $1.3 billion would go to the State Department for its resettlement efforts.

As of last week, there were nearly 40,000 evacuated Afghans waiting abroad to enter the U.S. Those in Qatar have complained about the extreme heat, as well as a limited number of bathroom facilities. 

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The Hill previously reported how one man who was evacuated to Qatar along with his wife has remained in the camp after the government offered a flight to him but not to her.

“The heat is just killing me and the bathroom situation is really bad,” he said. “They brought us to these camps, and we don’t know what’s going to happen next.”

The senior administration official said the funding would also be used to continue to house Afghans who arrive in the U.S. — often at military bases — before they are connected with various resettlement agencies.

The request from the White House comes as the administration seeks funding to float government operations until Congress concludes its work on the budget. 

Also included in the request is $815 million for the U.S. Agency for International Development to provide humanitarian assistance funding and $1.7 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services to provide refugee services.

Another $193 million is slated for U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services to ramp up their capacity and help new residents sort out their immigration status and gain status as lawful permanent residents.