Republican bill seeks to establish State Dept. task force on continued Afghanistan evacuation

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Senate Republicans introduced legislation aimed at tackling several issues related to the Afghanistan withdrawal, including the continued evacuation of American citizens still in the country.

“We continue to see the grave implications of the Biden Administration’s haphazard withdrawal from Afghanistan,” said Sen. Jim Risch, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in a statement Monday. “An unknown number of American citizens and Afghan partners remain abandoned in Afghanistan under threat from the Taliban, we face a renewed terror threat against the United States, and the Taliban wrongly seek recognition at the UN, even as they suppress the rights of Afghan women and girls,” said the Idaho Republican, one of 22 senators behind the legislation.

The legislation, titled the Afghanistan Counterterrorism, Oversight, and Accountability Act, aims to establish a State Department task force that will focus on the continued evacuation of American citizens, legal permanent residents and Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) holders who remain in Afghanistan.

The legislation would also look to provide strategies for continued counterterrorism in Afghanistan, sanction the Taliban for terrorism and human rights abuses, authorize sanctions for individuals and foreign countries providing support to the Taliban, and place restrictions on non-humanitarian foreign assistance to Afghanistan.

The notoriously cumbersome SIV application process would also be provided with more oversight mechanisms.

Risch was joined by Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mitt Romney of Utah, Rob Portman of Ohio, Todd Young of Indiana, John Barrasso of Wyoming, Mike Rounds of South Dakota, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee, John Thune of South Dakota, Rick Scott of Florida, Susan Collins of Maine, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Jerry Moran of Kansas, John Boozman of Arkansas, John Hoeven of North Dakota, Dan Sullivan of Alaska, Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, and Roger Marshall of Kansas in introducing the legislation.

“I’m proud to introduce the Afghanistan Counterterrorism, Oversight, and Accountability Act today to address these concerns and rebuild the United States’ credibility,” Risch said. “I hope the committee will be able to mark it up soon so that we can quickly help those we left behind and protect America’s national security interests before it’s too late.”

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