(Stars and Stripes)The end may be coming for a program that resettles Afghan interpreters who worked with U.S. forces during the 20-year-long war, after provisions for its extension were removed from the Senate version of the defense spending bill.
Republican lawmakers drew sharp criticism from Democrats and advocacy groups after the removal of language prolonging the Special Immigrant Visa program past 2023 from the National Defense Authorization Act text released Tuesday, a joint explanatory statement accompanying the bill said.
Currently, anyone who applies for a SIV by Dec. 31, 2023, will be considered.
“It’s tremendously disappointing that Republican obstruction prevented Congress from extending authorization of the Afghan SIV program in this bill, which is fundamental to the United States upholding its promise to our Afghan allies,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., said Wednesday in an email.
Sen. Charles Grassley in particular has long raised objections over what he has said were lax criteria for SIV program eligibility. The Iowa Republican sought stipulations as far back as 2018 that only Afghans classified as translators or interpreters should be allowed to apply for an SIV.
A spokesman for Grassley declined comment Wednesday but in an interview in August he said other Republicans in the Senate and House also had voiced various concerns.
Grassley as well as a Republican member of the House led efforts to strike the provision from the defense bill, a congressional staffer familiar with the matter but unauthorized to speak on the record told Stars and Stripes.