Advocates of legislation that would put Afghan evacuees onto a path to legalization are calling Republican obstructionism of the bipartisan bill “unconscionable,” and “another slap in the face” to allies who risked their lives, and those of their families, by aiding the U.S. military.
Despite bipartisan support for including the Afghan Adjustment Act in the must-pass funding bill, the move was reportedly blocked from inclusion by Republican Chuck Grassley on Monday. He didn’t just object; he “helped torpedo the proposal,” advocates tell NBC News. Following months and months of work advocating for the proposal, they’re pissed. We should be, too.
RELATED STORY: Republican Chuck Grassley reportedly blocks inclusion of Afghan allies bill in omnibus
In a statement following Monday night reporting that the omnibus proposal had failed, the Evacuate Our Allies coalition said, “Republican leaders’ hypocrisy on the Afghan Adjustment act is clear.”
Grassley, in particular, has based his opposition on supposed security concerns that the bill already addresses. “While Senator Charles Grassley complained about the August 2021 evacuation of Afghanistan, he sunk this most significant legislation to help Afghans,” the coalition said. “Grassley raised baseless concerns about vetting, even as the bill requires Afghans to be revetted.”
The coalition also said that Mitch McConnell made remarks this week about the GOP’s alleged “commitment to veterans and the military,” but at the same time was “helping kill” legislation supported by former military leaders (including a number of former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) and the largest veterans organizations in the nation. Both groups penned recent letters urging lawmakers to include the bill in the funding package.
“Across two decades of war, the United States promised our Afghan allies that if they stood by us, we would always stand by them,” Evacuate Our Allies legislative committee co-chair Mohammed Naeem said Tuesday. “Last night, Congress decided to exclude the Afghan Adjustment Act from the FY23 Omnibus—breaking that very promise. Regrettably, the government is conveying to its Afghan allies that they do not deserve to belong in America, no matter their sacrifices for the United States.”
Naeem echoed calls that immediately followed Monday’s news, urging Senate leadership to bring the Afghan Adjustment Act to the floor as an amendment. “It is a moral imperative that we honor our word,” Naeem continued.
"In August 2021, many Members of Congress worked side by side with members of the Evacuate Our Allies and AfghanEvac coalitions to get allies out of Afghanistan to safety in the U.S.,” Evacuate Our Allies legislative committee co-chair Jennifer Quigley said. “Now, Leader McConnell and Senator Grassley, among others, want to forget the debt we owe those who fought alongside Americans, whether it was in battle or building democracy and respect for rights in Afghanistan.” She said the world would “not forget this intransigence.”
This would not be the first time, even just this month, that Republicans have spat in the face of U.S. military service members. Nearly all House Republicans at the beginning of the month voted against legislation that would prevent the unjust deportation of immigrants who have fought for the nation. Just three House Republicans joined House Democrats in passing the Veteran Service Recognition Act. All 208 votes opposing U.S. military service members were from Republicans. Only Pennsylvania’s Brian Fitzpatrick, Ilinois’ Adam Kinzinger, and Florida’s María Elvira Salazar joined Democrats in protecting our service members.
But remember, it’s still not too late to fulfill our promise to our allies. A number of senators are reportedly pushing for a floor amendment to include the bill in the omnibus. But are the votes there? Keep pushing.
“We must provide genuine and lasting protection to the Afghans who have made it safely to the United States and to those who have been left behind,” American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Student Veterans of America, and With Honor Action wrote in their recent letter supporting passage of the bill through the funding bill. “The longer we go without meeting this promise, the more our moral injuries fester.”
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