Stopgap Funding Bill Includes $7 Billion for Afghans, $1.6 Billion for UACs

Will GOP go along to avert a shutdown?

By Robert Law on December 2, 2021

A potential federal government shutdown is looming with funding currently set to run out at 11:59 p.m. on December 3, 2021. To avert a shutdown, House Democrats just introduced a bill that would temporarily extend government funding through February 18, 2022. But instead of a “clean” bill that retains the status quo, this bill includes additional funding for the visa-less Afghans the Biden administration allowed into the country after the botched Afghanistan withdrawal. As framed by House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), “the [continuing resolution] includes virtually no changes to existing funding or policy (anomalies). However, Democrats prevailed in including $7 billion for Afghanistan evacuees.”

The short press release is notable for two reasons. First, DeLauro’s use of “Afghanistan evacuees” implicitly concedes that the unvetted Afghan population allowed into the country are not refugees, as the administration and its media allies originally claimed. Additionally, the press release omits any breakdown of how the $7 billion in taxpayer dollars will be allocated.

Combined, the $7 billion will be allocated to the Departments of Defense (DOD); Homeland Security (DHS), Health and Human Services (HHS), and State (DOS) in support of Operation Allies Welcome. My colleague Nayla Rush has written a comprehensive piece on the operation, examining “who exactly was on those planes?” when the United States evacuated 124,000 people out of Afghanistan between July 14 and August 31.

DOD would receive most of the money, at approximately $4.3 billion. Of that, $4 billion would be available through September 30, 2023, for “Overseas Humanitarian, Disaster, and Civic Aid”. The remainder would be available through September 30, 2022 (the current fiscal year) to the Army ($128 million), Navy ($7 million), Marines ($32 million), and Air Force ($145 million) “for support of Operation Allies Welcome”. The bill explicitly prohibits the DOD funds from being transferred for other purposes.

HHS receives the next highest allotment at approximately $1.27 billion. Within that, $8 million is available through the remainder of the fiscal year for “CDC-Wide Activities and Program Support” and for “medical support, screening, and other related public health activities related to Afghan arrivals and refugees”. This allocation is apparently needed because the required health screenings did not occur prior to the Afghans’ arrival on American soil. The remaining $1.26 billion is available through September 30, 2023, for “Refugee and Entrant Assistance” for Afghans paroled into the country. This earmark is a taxpayer-funded bonanza to the immigration groups supportive of the Biden administration. The bill allows Congress to dole it out as grants and contracts to non-profit organizations for “culturally and linguistically appropriate services, including wrap-around services during temporary housing and after resettlement, housing assistance, medical assistance, legal assistance, education services, and case management assistance”. The funds may also be distributed to the states, presumably those that allow the most Afghans to resettle in their jurisdiction.

DOS receives a little more than $1.2 billion, all of which remains available until spent. The bill gives exactly $1.2 billion for the “United States Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund” for Operation Allies Welcome support “including additional relocations of individuals at risk as a result of the situation in Afghanistan”. The remainder goes to “Diplomatic Programs” ($44.3 million) and “Emergencies in the Diplomatic and Consular Service” ($36 million) for Operation Allies Welcome support, “including additional relocations of individuals at risk as a result of the situation in Afghanistan”.

Also hidden in the bill is $1.6 billion allocated for unaccompanied alien children (UAC) who illegally crossed the southern border. This money is available through September 30, 2024, and its intended purpose is disguised in legislative language that says “for the account specified and for the activities specified, in section 141 of this Act.”

Combined, Democrats are poised to put taxpayers on the hook for $8.6 billion to address parts of President Biden’s border mess. By comparison, the State of Delaware’s entire yearly budget for FY 2022 is roughly $4.7 billion, or $3.9 billion less.

It remains to be seen if Senate Republicans will balk at these immigration riders and demand a clean continuing resolution if the Democrats wish to avoid shutting down the federal government.