US

Former US ambassadors push for help for Afghan allies in spending bill



CNN

A group of retired ambassadors, all of whom served as US embassy chiefs of mission in Afghanistan, have written a letter to congressional leaders urging them to include the Afghan Adjustment Act in the omnibus spending bill.

The legislation “preserves our deep and binding commitments made to our allies during the war. This is a moral imperative but also ensures that we will find future allies in future conflicts,” write former Ambassadors Ryan Crocker, Ronald E. Neumann, William Wood, Earl Anthony Wayne, James Cunningham, Fr. Michael McKinley, Hugo Llorens and Ross Wilson in the letter, which will be sent on Wednesday evening.

The letter, organized by AfghanEvac’s Shawn vanDiver and former Ambassador Phil Kosnett, is a message from respected leaders and experts on Afghanistan that including the bill in the omnibus spending package is essential to meet United States commitments to fulfill.

The push comes after top congressional negotiators said Tuesday night they had reached agreement on a framework that should allow lawmakers to finalize a sweeping federal funding package for the full year. After a draft is agreed, staff will spend the next few days drafting legislation and distributing millions of dollars to agencies.

The letter argues that without the Afghan Adaptation Act, the asylum and immigration court systems “will be overwhelmed with thousands of new applications as probation expires for the Afghans brought here during the August 2021 evacuation.”

“Without an AAA, tens of thousands of recently arrived Afghans will have to find an existing immigration route to remain legal after their parole expires,” the letter said. “That means tens of thousands of new asylum applications.”

The group of retired diplomats added that the task of American diplomacy will be more difficult without the legal provisions outlined in the bill.

“Unless the United States acts to support its allies by passing the Afghan Adjustment Act, our allies will be less likely to support US missions in the future as they see our Afghan partners being abandoned,” it said it in the letter.

Congress is on track to pass a week-long extension to avert a shutdown by Friday, but a broader funding deal has been a challenge amid a row between the two parties over how much money should be spent on non-defense, domestic priorities .

Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that a spending agreement must be in place by December 22, noting that lawmakers “intend to be on their way home on December 23 before the Christmas break.” “.

This story has been updated with additional information.

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