Consequences of Afghanistan withdrawal addressed in Rounds bill

U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) on Sept. 27 joined almost two dozen Republican senators to unveil legislation that would address numerous remaining issues related to the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan, including terrorism, hostages, immigrant visas, humanitarian abuses, and refugees, among others.

“Our legislation prioritizes the safe evacuation of Americans and Afghan partners still stranded in Afghanistan while holding the Taliban accountable for their terrorist acts and human rights abuses,” Sen. Rounds said. “I will work with my colleagues to keep Americans safe and terrorism at bay.”

Sen. Rounds cosponsored the Afghanistan Counterterrorism, Oversight, and Accountability Act of 2021, S. 2863, with bill sponsor U.S. Rep. James Risch (R-ID) and 21 other original cosponsors, including U.S. Sens. Mitt Romney (R-UT), Rob Portman (R-OH), Todd Young (R-IN), Susan Collins (R-ME), Richard Burr (R-NC), Jerry Moran (R-KS), John Hoeven (R-ND), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Joni Ernst (R-IA).

If enacted, S. 2863 would establish a U.S. State Department task force to focus on the evacuation of American citizens, legal permanent residents, and Afghan Special Immigrant Visas (SIVs) who remain in Afghanistan, according to a bill summary provided by Sen. Rounds’ office.

Additionally, S. 2863 would impose sanctions on the Taliban and anyone helping the terrorist organization in Afghanistan; require oversight mechanisms on the processing of SIVs and refugees; require strategies for counterterrorism and for the disposition of Taliban-captured U.S. equipment; restrict non-humanitarian foreign assistance to Afghanistan; and calls for a comprehensive review of foreign assistance to entities that support the Taliban, the summary says.

“I’ve asked the administration for a plan and while they say they have one, they have not revealed any details of a plan. My office is still working with Special Immigrant Visa applicants who supported America’s effort in Afghanistan,” said Sen. Rounds. “We have a responsibility to get them out. Congress has an obligation to engage in oversight of these activities. I hope the administration will work with us in passing this essential legislation in an expedient, bipartisan manner.”

The bill has been referred to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee for consideration.