Good afternoon. I would like to provide you with a few updates about recent developments in Congress and share some important information.
Afghanistan Withdrawal and Evacuations
Like many of you, I am heartbroken by the unfolding crisis in Afghanistan. I was horrified to see the recent terrorist attack on the Kabul International Airport that killed 13 U.S. service members and an estimated 170 Afghans. My heart goes out to the families of those lost that day.
This attack represents the very violence that U.S. service members are working to protect American citizens and Afghan civilians from. I am humbled by and proud of the daily heroism of our troops who have been working tirelessly to secure the evacuation of Americans and refugees from Afghanistan. Our nation mourns the loss of these brave service members and will never forget the sacrifices they made.
This attack is yet another tragic reminder of the flawed decades-long U.S. mission in Afghanistan which has only made Americans and Afghans less safe. The United States spent 20 years and over $2 trillion on the war in Afghanistan, and it is past time that we bring our troops home. I believe President Biden made the right decision to withdraw our troops to end this unwinnable war. While the Administration has made significant progress in organizing one of the most challenging mass evacuations in recent history, far more must be done to ensure American citizens and vulnerable Afghan refugees are out of harm’s way. A responsible withdrawal means evacuations of all American citizens who want to leave, our Afghan allies who risked their lives working for the U.S. government and our mission, and other vulnerable Afghan refugees.
While the U.S. military presence should come to a close, the U.S. has a moral obligation to increase its diplomatic engagement with the United Nations and regional actors to help stabilize the country and commit humanitarian assistance that meets the needs of everyday Afghans. We must begin to heal the wounds of our longest war by bringing our troops home, caring for our veterans, and dramatically increasing admissions and resettlement efforts for Afghan refugees.
Advancing Infrastructure and Economic Development
Last week, the House voted to adopt a rule that would allow us to begin working on a proposed $3.5 trillion budget reconciliation package and an additional $1.2 trillion infrastructure package. The $3.5 trillion budget package includes funding for universal pre-kindergarten, subsidized childcare, free community college, improvements to Medicare, and much more to help jumpstart our economy by getting people back to work in the wake of the pandemic. The infrastructure package will provide funding for things like roads, bridges, public transportation, and both passenger and freight trains, plus $550 billion in new spending on things like rural broad, which will all help to rebuild our economy.
This key vote brings us one step closer to passing both of those monumental funding packages. Now that we have adopted this new rule, we are on track for the House to pass both passages sometime in September.
We have spent trillions in wars overseas, now it is finally time to start spending trillions on our own infrastructure and economic development.
Status of Emergency Use Authorization for COVID-19 Vaccines for Children
Rep. Katie Porter and I sent a bipartisan letter of 108 members of Congress to Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock asking for the FDA to present a clear timeline for Covid-19 vaccines for children ages 2-11. Children under 12 are still not eligible to receive any COVID-19 vaccination. This letter asks the FDA to provide a briefing to members of Congress on this important issue of vaccinations for children under 12. The letter asks the FDA important questions Congress needs to know to be assured that children can get protection from COVID as soon and as safely as possible.
FAIR Scoring from the Congressional Budget Office
I partnered with Representative Dean Phillips (D-MN), along with Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) to introduce the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Fiscal Analysis by Income and Race (FAIR) Scoring Act, legislation that seeks to provide policymakers with standardized, non-partisan data about the real-world effects of their policies. This bill would allow legislators to formally consider the impacts of legislation on people of all socioeconomic backgrounds, particularly low-income Americans and communities of color, and design policies that more effectively advance racial and economic equity. The bill would also further the objectives of President Biden’s Executive Order on advancing racial equity and support for underserved communities.
The CBO FAIR Scoring Act, would overhaul the current system that we have for legislative scoring. Instead of just requiring CBO to report the fiscal cost of legislation, our bill would require them to score large-scale legislation based on its impacts on people of different races, income levels, and eventually its impact on people of different genders. This is a needed step forward.
Updates in the District
I am proud to represent a sizeable Afghan-American community in our district, and in response to the Afghan evacuation crisis, my office has been working tirelessly in recent weeks to process as many inquiries as possible with the Department of State and relentlessly following up until everyone reaches safety. One evacuation success story we’ve been able to celebrate is the Sultani family’s return home to Milpitas. My staff was able to welcome them home after being beaten by the Taliban on the way to the airport and spending five days attempting to fly out of Kabul, plus three additional days of international travel. The Sultani family expressed a huge sigh of relief as they arrived home.
In coming days and weeks, we will be working with government and community groups to ensure a coordinated resettlement effort.
Facebook Live Town Halls
Thank you to all who participated in this month’s Facebook Live town hall. In September, I will host a town hall on Monday, September 20th at 3pm Pacific. Please be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @RepRoKhanna.
Caseworkers in my Santa Clara office are available to help Silicon Valley residents navigate the bureaucracy of federal agencies and any other concerns during the COVID-19 crisis. My staff can help you solve problems with immigration, visas, Social Security payments and VA paperwork, among other areas. Please call my office at (408) 436-2720 between 9:00am and 5:00pm Monday-Friday if you need assistance. Your call will be promptly answered (remotely) by my staff. You can also contact me online at any time at Khanna.house.gov/contact. While we are unable to meet in-person, my staff is ready to help. Visit my website for more information.