White House asks Congress for billions in emergency funds for Afghan resettlement

WASHINGTON — The White House is seeking billions in emergency funds this month from Congress to help resettle tens of thousands of Afghan immigrants into the U.S.

In a spending request Tuesday outlining "urgent needs," President Joe Biden's administration asked Congress to authorize $6.4 billion for Afghan resettlement efforts one week after the U.S. ended its military effort in Afghanistan. The U.S. is currently working to resettle Afghan allies evacuated from the war-torn country.

White House officials also requested "at least $10 billion" for recovery efforts from Hurricane Ida, and an additional $14 billion for other recent natural disasters – including Hurricanes Laura and Delta from last year.

Shalanda Young, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, made the budget request Tuesday, less than four weeks before the current 2021 fiscal year ends Sept. 30. Together the requests total more than $30 billion.

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Young proposed the spending in a request for a "short-term continuing resolution" that would also give more time for Congress to pass a full budget for the 2022 fiscal year, which is set to begin Oct. 1. Federal government spending will end on Sept. 30, forcing a shutdown, unless there is action from Congress. 

Afghan refugees arrive at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C., on Aug. 26, 2021.

“We strongly urge Congress to use the short-term CR to meet our commitments to Afghan allies and partners,” Young said in an OMB blog post discussing the request. “The operation to move out of danger and to safety tens of thousands of Afghans at risk, including many who helped us during our two decades in Afghanistan, represents an extraordinary military, diplomatic, security, and humanitarian operation by the U.S. Government.”

The funding for Afghan refugees would support U.S. resettlement operations overseas and plans for as many as 65,000 vulnerable Afghans to arrive in the U.S. by the end of his month, according to the White House, and up to 30,000 additional Afghans over the next year.

The U.S. helped evacuate more than 124,000 people out of Afghanistan, including 6,400 Americans, before ending the 20-year war in the country. Afghans arriving in the U.S. first undergo biometric and biographical security secruning. After 12 months of presence in the U.S., Afghans who enter will be eligible to apply to become lawful permanent residents and receive green cards.

The majority of requested federal funds would support U.S. processing sites overseas, such as the Ramstein Air Base in Germany, where many Afghans were transported before they travel the U.S., and transportation between these sites and the U.S.

The request also includes funds for humanitarian assistance through the State Department and United States Agency for International Development to help "Afghans at risk" in Afghanistan and the neighboring region. Additional funds would cover public health screenings, vaccinations, health benefits, employment assistance and other resources for Afghans arriving in the U.S. 

The Biden administration's request is separate from a $3.5 trillion budget resolution that Democrats and the White House are pushing to pass an assortment of social safety-net and climate proposals. 

More:'We don't have any more time:' Biden highlights climate change as he tours Hurricane Ida damage in NY, NJ

Biden on Tuesday surveyed flood damage from Hurricane Ida during separate stops in Hillsborough Township, New Jersey and Queens, New York, using the moment to call attention to the increase in extreme weather events and demand action on climate change.

Other budget requests in the new budget request include funding for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and an extension to expiring authorities for the Bureau of Reclamation's drought response.

US President Joe Biden(C) tours a neighbourhood affected by Hurricane Ida in Manville, New Jersey on September 7, 2021. - President Joe Biden headed Tuesday to storm-ravaged New York and New Jersey, just days after inspecting the damage caused by Hurricane Ida in Louisiana. Biden -- who is pushing a giant infrastructure spending bill, including major funding for the green economy -- argues that extreme weather across the United States this summer is a harbinger of worse climate change to come.

Reach Joey Garrison on Twitter @joeygarrison.