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An Afghan interpreter with the U.S. Army helps to question a villager near Kandahar, Afghanistan in 2014. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The House on Thursday voted to expand a visa program that would allow more Afghans who helped the U.S. military quickly immigrate to the United States, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: Last month, the Biden administration made plans to evacuate many of the Afghans who worked with the U.S. military before completing the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. These individuals and their families face threats of retaliation from the Taliban because of their service to the U.S. military.

Details: The bill, which would expand the special visa program from 11,000 to 19,000, passed by a vote of 407 to 16.

  • The legislation further broadens who is eligible for the program, removing some application requirements.
  • For example, applicants will no longer need to provide a sworn statement that they faced threats or worked a "sensitive job" with the U.S. military, per the NYT.

What they're saying: "Many of us have expressed grave concerns about the challenges our allies face in navigating the application process," Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D- Calif.) said.

  • "They will be killed if we don’t get them out of there," Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said. "Please, Mr. President, get them out before they are killed."

What to watch: The bill still faces a vote in the Senate.

Go deeper: U.S. to evacuate some Afghans who helped troops before withdrawal

Go deeper

Updated Oct 25, 2021 - World

U.S. threatens to cut aid to Sudan after military takeover

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok during a 2020 news conference in Khartoum, Sudan. Photo: Mahmoud Hjaj/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Sudan's civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was put under house arrest and several other ministers were detained Monday in what appears to be a military coup in the country, per local reports.

The latest: The head of the military faction of the Sudanese government, Gen. Abdul Fattah al-Burhan, said in a statement that he is announcing a state of emergency, suspending several parts of the interim constitution and dissolving the civilian government and interim sovereignty council — the highest governing body in the country.

7 mins ago - Health

White House says Obamacare sign-ups hit record

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra speaking in the White House in December 2021. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

The White House said Thursday that a record 14.5 million Americans have signed up for health insurance through Obamacare marketplaces since Nov. 1, including more than 10 million enrollments through HealthCare.gov.

Why it matters: Last year's stimulus bill contained substantial investments in the program, including increased subsidies, more advertising and a longer enrollment period.

27 mins ago - World

Kremlin says U.S. written responses ignored Russia's main NATO demand

Sergey Lavrov. Photo: Dimitar DilkoffI/AFP via Getty Images

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Thursday that the United States' written answers to Russia's security demands do not contain a "positive response" to the Kremlin's top priority, which is a freeze on NATO expansion, according to Russian state media.

Why it matters: A spokesperson for the Kremlin stressed that no conclusions will be drawn until Russian President Vladimir Putin has time to analyze the papers, but a lack of movement on Russia's core concerns means the crisis over Ukraine is unlikely to de-escalate.