US Senators voted along party lines, with Republicans backing the measure and Democrats opposing it, underscoring the deep divide over how the country should deal with an influx of Afghans that follower the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The US Senate has narrowly defeated Republican-backed legislation that would have curtailed assistance for thousands of Afghans evacuated last month as US forces withdrew and the Taliban took over Afghanistan.
The measure failed on a 50-50 vote on Thursday because it needed a simple majority to be included in a spending bill that must pass to keep the government open after midnight.
Senators voted along party lines, with Republicans backing the measure and Democrats opposing it, underscoring the deep divide over how the country should deal with a flood of Afghans desperate for new homes after the US withdrawal from their homeland.
The measure, sponsored by Republican Senator Tom Cotton, would have cut off housing, medical, food and other aid for the resettled Afghans after March 31, 2023, and waived strict requirements for obtaining government identification that would have made it more difficult to obtain drivers' licenses.
It also called on the Department of Homeland Security to more quickly review applications from Afghan asylum seekers.
Senate Democrats are introducing a Continuing Resolution to keep the government open, provide long-sought emergency funding to help Americans still reeling from natural disasters, and provide funding to help re-settle Afghan refugees.— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) September 29, 2021
We’ll work to get it done.
Republican Senator Rob Portman, speaking on behalf of the amendment, called it a common-sense effort to ensure proper vetting of people admitted to the United States.
Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen spoke against the amendment. She said Afghan refugees would be properly vetted without it. She and other Democrats also argued against cutting off benefits to people who badly need them.
President Joe Biden had ordered a withdrawal of remaining US troops by August 31st this year, ending the longest war in US history which lead to Kabul's fall to the Taliban and an outflow of refugees to several countries.
Biden administration pledged to accept refugees escaping from Taliban rule, especially the ones that worked with the US government.
Thousands of Afghans expected to have the opportunity to resettle as refugees in the United States, as Taliban took the reins of Afghanistan.
US State Department said it will expand the eligibility of refugee admissions beyond the roughly 20,000 Afghans who have already applied — with some being evacuated — under a programme for interpreters who assisted US forces.
"In light of increased levels of Taliban violence, the US government is working to provide certain Afghans, including those who worked with the United States, the opportunity for refugee resettlement to the United States," the statement on August said.