Senator Joni Ernst says a bipartisan proposal to help Afghan civilians who worked with the U.S. military is included in a security-related bill that easily cleared the House and Senate yesterday.
There’s money for processing special immigrant visas as well as travel and housing assistance in the bill.
“This will help us move some of those Afghan interpreters, if they get cleared through the state department, then we can start moving them out of Afghanistan,” Ernst says.
Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Ottumwa worked on the proposal in the House. Miller-Meeks says transferring authority to the Afghan government to protect Afghans who helped the U.S. military over the past two decades would be “a moral failure.”
The bill’s main purpose, however, is to ensure the budget for the Capitol Police doesn’t run out of money after the unexpected expenses of responding to the January 6 attack on the Capitol. “With all of the additional overtime that they had, it puts them in a position the way they’re paid here, they would have to start furloughing workers,” Ernst says.
The $100 million in the legislation prevents that and not only covers overtime, but mental health support for Capitol Police officers as well. Another $300 million in the bill is for new security measures in the Capitol complex. “It’s additional repairs to the Capitol from January 6,” Ernst says. “It’s a different type of glass that they will be using in the glass at the Capitol building, things of that nature.”
There’s also money in the bill to reimburse National Guard units, like Iowa’s, that were deployed to Washington to provide security.