Government short-term funding bill includes billions in Afghan resettlement funds
President Biden signed the bill Thursday evening
The House and Senate on Thursday passed a short-term funding bill that staved off a government shutdown and ensured funding to resettle thousands of Afghan refugees.
In a 65 to 35 vote the Senate approved funding that would provide $6.3 billion for Afghan resettlement, along with ensuring the federal government remains operational through Dec. 3.
"This is a good outcome — one I am happy we are getting done," Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said from the Senate floor ahead of the vote. "With so many things happening in Washington, the last thing the American people need is for the government to grind to a halt."
HOUSE ALIGNS WITH SENATE AND VOTES TO AVOID GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN WITH SHORT-TERM FUNDING BILL
The House voted 254-175, and President Biden signed the bill Thursday evening.
The administration has said it expects upwards of 95,000 refugees to be brought to the U.S. over the next year, following the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
The funds will be designated for housing evacuees at facilities, screening, and resettlement.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said that "Overall, this is encouraging progress," though both the McConnell and Schumer noted ticket items they would have liked to see included in the legislation.
But some Republicans are frustrated over language included in the bill at the request of the White House.
If an Afghan refugee enters the U.S. between July 2021 and the end of September 2022, they will be permitted to apply for a green card after residing in the U.S. for one year through an expedited process.
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Arkansas Republican Sen. Top Cotton accused President Biden of trying "to award unlimited green cards to people who didn’t serve alongside our troops and who may even threaten our safety and health — all while exempting them from the normal refugee screening process."
Cotton introduced legislation that would have cut aid from resources like housing and medical benefits for Afghan refugees admitted into the U.S. after March 31, 2023, first reported The New York Times. But a tied vote on the senator’s amendment struck down the proposed changes.
The bill now heads to President Biden’s desk ahead of a federal funding lapse, which would occur at midnight.
Fox Business' Adam Shaw contributed to this report.