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People try to scale the boundary wall at Hamid Karzai International Airport on Monday in the hopes of fleeing the country. Photo: STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Some Democrats are considering allocating a portion of their $3.5 trillion budget plan toward refugee resettlement for those fleeing Afghanistan, three Hill sources familiar with the early discussions tell Axios.

Why it matters: As President Biden defends his plan for complete withdrawal amid searing images of the Taliban’s swift takeover, Democrats who agreed with the plan, if not its execution, are scrambling for a way to protect some of the nation's most vulnerable — including women, children, interpreters and others who helped the U.S. over the past two decades.

  • The $3.5 trillion budget plan aims to give Democrats a vehicle to push through big infrastructure spending unilaterally via the budget reconciliation process.
  • Conversations about if and how to apply that to resettling Afghan refugees are in their infancy and will continue to develop over the next several weeks, these sources said.

The big picture: Many progressives fundamentally agree with Biden's withdrawal position and still maintain that he made the right — some even said “brave” — choice.

  • Rep. Ilhan Omar, among the first Somali-American, Muslim women to serve in Congress, called for the U.S. to “marshal an international coalition to evacuate every Afghan citizen who is fleeing for their lives.”
  • “We have a moral obligation to the Afghan people,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “The U.S. role in this crisis is indisputable."
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders tweeted that “we must do everything we can to evacuate our allies and open our doors to refugees.”

But Biden faces criticism from Democrats as well as Republicans who say he lacked a comprehensive plan for evacuating those who risked their lives for U.S. or who face certain death or reprisal under the Taliban.

  • An aide to one progressives House Democratic member said their group is pressing the administration to share a comprehensive plan for evacuations within the next 24 hours.
  • Meanwhile, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland said on Monday that his state intends to receive more Afghan interpreters than previously planned due to the crisis in Afghanistan.

What we're watching: How progressive challengers use Afghanistan against Democratic incumbents on the campaign trail.

  • Rana Abdelhamid, a liberal challenger to New York Rep. Carolyn Maloney, shared an image of Maloney wearing a burqa on the House floor after the 9/11 attacks.
  • "I was 9 years old when I watched my Congresswoman wear a burqa in Congress to justify the invasion of Afghanistan," she wrote in a now-viral tweet. "For the rest of my life, I knew that as a Muslim woman my identity would be weaponized to justify American wars."
  • Abdelhamid said in an interview with Axios that there's a "deep lack of engagement" and "deafening silence" from some House Dems who had supported the war.

Go deeper

Nov 19, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: GOP donors “furious”

Sen. Rick Scott addresses the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas on Nov. 5 — the day the House passed the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Photo: Bridget Bennett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) told his colleagues this week top party donors were "furious" with the number of Republicans — including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — who voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill, two sources familiar with his remarks tell Axios' Alayna Treene.

Why it matters: Scott chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which relies on donors to help it elect candidates — and re-elect incumbents. The criticism highlighted how toxic the vote has become for the 19 Senate and 13 House Republicans who joined with Democrats to pass it.

Updated 10 mins ago - Economy & Business

S&P 500 on track for worst-ever start to year

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Stocks suffered their steepest drop of the year early Monday, putting the S&P 500 on course for its worst-ever start to a year.

Driving the news: The benchmark S&P 500 dropped for its fifth straight day, with losses nearing 3% in early trading, momentarily putting it on track to fall into a "correction." Some of the steepest losses were recovered in early afternoon trading.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
1 hour ago - Health

Health care workers hit new breaking point

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The ranks of health care workers are dwindling and stretching what it means to be reaching their "breaking points," particularly at small nonprofit hospitals.

The big picture: Even as Omicron cases have begun to wane in some places, many hospitals are still fielding a crush of patients amid record employee callouts.

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