While the State Department has wholly denied the claims, some reports are suggesting that the Biden administration is charging Americans upwards of $2,000 to evacuate them from Afghanistan as the Taliban takes over in the wake of the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the region. Now, Republicans are doing all they can to put an end to the madness.
According to the Washington Examiner, Republicans have introduced a bill in the House to prohibit President Joe Biden’s administration from charging American citizens for the costs of evacuating them from Kabul.
Paying for flights
In a Thursday statement to the Examiner, State Department spokesperson Ned Price said the federal government has no plans to send bills to evacuees.
“In these unique circumstances, we have no intention of seeking any reimbursement from those fleeing Afghanistan,” Price said.
But as the Examiner notes, the U.S. had been instructing those seeking evacuation from Kabul both before and after its fall to the Taliban “to fill out a form promising they would pay $2,000 or more for their flight out of Afghanistan.” They “only updat[ed] the form over the weekend,” the Examiner said.
Footing the bill
In response to concern over the development, the Flights for Freedom Act was introduced Tuesday by Rep. Claudia Tenney, a New York Republican who wants to ensure “the federal government will not go back on its promise and solicit or collect payments from Americans who were forced to evacuate Afghanistan.”
Rep. Tenney said in a statement that “Biden’s unilateral and reckless retreat has been disastrous from day one, and American citizens on the ground are already facing serious challenges. We must not add insult to injury,” she declared Tuesday.
“The thousands of Americans left behind in Afghanistan by the Biden administration already fear for their lives,” the congresswoman added. “They should not be forced by the U.S. government to finance their own lifesaving flights out of the country.”
According to Tenney’s press release, the bill was also co-sponsored in the House by Reps. Brian Mast (R-FL) and Tom Tiffany (R-WI). The measure would require Secretary of State Antony Blinken to “waive any expenses related to the evacuation and repatriation of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents for the withdrawal from Afghanistan,” according to the Washington Examiner.
Getting a backbone
At the end of the day, it’s clear that President Biden is the only one to blame for the chaos in Kabul. Now, Democrats in the House have come face-to-face with a hard choice: Give Republicans a win by passing this bill to protect evacuees, or resist it and risk more bad optics with the midterm elections coming up fast.
Meanwhile, the situation in Afghanistan is continuing to deteriorate. Multiple suicide bombers were reported to have attacked the airport in Kabul on Thursday morning, and early reports have confirmed that U.S. troops are among the casualties.
President Biden is now facing pressure to keep troops on the ground until the last American has been evacuated from Afghanistan. Only time will tell, however, if the Democrat commander in chief finally gets a backbone.