White House officials tell lawmakers they will need $ 1 billion in emergency funding for the Afghan visa effort



The administration did not submit a formal request but provided information in a series of conversations on Friday about securing additional funds for the State and Defense Department’s efforts to expand and streamline the special afghan immigrant visa program.

The White House has underscored the need for $ 500 million for the State Department and up to $ 500 million for the Department of Defense, according to a committee aide.

The request for additional funds comes as lawmakers on both sides have stepped up pressure on the White House to act swiftly to deal with the thousands of Afghans and their families who face imminent danger amid conflict. Taliban advances as the United States leaves the country. The request has bipartisan backing – and could be included in an additional security funding program being negotiated on Capitol Hill, the sources said.

The number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan has risen sharply since May, according to data from the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. The increase coincides with the start of the withdrawal of international military forces from the country, following President Joe Biden’s announcement in April of the withdrawal of American troops.

In some of its strongest comments to date, the State Department on Friday condemned “recent reports of violence and atrocities against interpreters and other Afghans” by the Taliban and called on the leadership of the militant group. both “to condemn these atrocities and violations of fundamental rights” and “to proactively prevent their forces from carrying out these actions on the ground”.

Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the top Republican on the Senate Credit Committee, told reporters negotiators are “very close” to a deal for block funding, which is primarily designed to direct funds for secure the US Capitol complex in the aftermath. of the January 6 attack.

The Biden administration announced last week that the first batch of candidates would move from Afghanistan to Fort Lee in Virginia, and U.S. officials are in talks with other countries to welcome Afghans into the pipeline. State Department spokesman Ned Price said the initial tranche is estimated at 2,500 people – 700 applicants and their immediate family members.

The initial group that is relocated is a small part of the total number of approximately 20,000 Afghans who are in the Special Immigrant Visa pipeline. About half of those 20,000 are in very early stages of the process and need to take action before the US government can begin processing their cases, a State Department spokesperson said this month.

Other Afghan candidates who are further along in the process but who have not been approved will go to US military bases abroad or in third countries. The administration has not yet publicly announced any agreements with possible third countries.

CNN’s Manu Raju and Maegan Vazquez contributed to this report.


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