Wexton, Scanlon Seek Reimbursement for Airports Supporting Operation Allies Welcome
Washington, February 11, 2022
Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Representatives Jennifer Wexton (D-VA) and Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA), requested a legislative fix to allow for Dulles International Airport and Philadelphia International Airport to be reimbursed for expenses incurred while supporting Operation Allies Welcome, which has successfully aided the evacuation of tens of thousands of Afghan refugees. Wexton and Scanlon, representatives of Dulles International and Philadelphia International, respectively, requested that language to allow for reimbursement be included in the next fiscal year 2022 Homeland Security appropriations measure.
“With less than 24 hours’ notice of the first incoming flights, the airports quickly facilitated the necessary staffing, processes, and accommodations to provide a comfortable and safe environment for the evacuees. As critical partners in this humanitarian effort, the airports deserve parity with the other supporting organizations who are able to secure reimbursement for their efforts.” said the representatives in their letter.
The historic Operation Allies Welcome program has been made possible by nonprofits, aid groups, and regular volunteers from across the region stepping up to ensure vulnerable Afghans were safely cared for as they arrived here in the U.S. However, unlike other organizations that have assisted with refugee assistance and resettlement, the airports are currently not eligible for reimbursement by any programs supported by the $13.85 billion Congress has provided for the operation.
Dulles International and Philadelphia International have welcomed more than 300 flights and 80,000 evacuees since Operation Allies Welcome began in August 2021. To accommodate the influx of evacuees as well as facilitate necessary health and security measures, the airports established makeshift centers for medical screenings and vaccinations, increased staffing capacity, and enhanced public safety measures. The expenditures have totaled more than $2 million thus far.
Joining Wexton and Scanlon on the bipartisan letter are Representatives Donald S. Beyer, Jr. (D-VA), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), Brendan F. Boyle (D-PA), Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Dwight Evans (D-VA), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), and Donald Norcross (D-NJ).
The full text of the letter can be found here and below:
February 11, 2022
The Honorable Rosa DeLauro The Honorable Kay Granger
The Honorable Lucille Roybal-Allard The Honorable Chuck Fleischmann
Dear Chair DeLauro, Ranking Member Granger, Chairwoman Roybal-Allard, and Ranking Member Fleischmann:
One of the most critical operations at the end of our country’s conflict in Afghanistan was ensuring that our Afghan allies were safely evacuated. When it was time for the Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to determine where to take these evacuees, two civilian airports served as their points of entry as part of what would become known as Operation Allies Welcome: Dulles International Airport and Philadelphia International Airport. As the representatives of these airports, we write to request that the next fiscal year 2022 Homeland Security appropriations measure include provisions to authorize DHS to reimburse the airports for expenditures incurred because of their participation in Operation Allies Welcome.
Dulles International and Philadelphia International proudly stepped up to ensure that our Afghan allies were safely welcomed into the United States. Since evacuation operations began in August 2021, the two airports have welcomed over 300 flights and 80,000 evacuees. With Dulles International’s role paused, all Afghan evacuee flights are currently being processed at Philadelphia International. DHS recently advised that these flights will continue through September 30, 2022.
Congress provided $6.3 billion to support Afghan evacuee operations in H.R. 5305, the Extending Government Funding, and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act, and an additional $7.55 billion in H.R. 6119, the Further Extending Government Funding Act. However, as advised by DHS, the airport expenditures fall outside of the eligibility of the programs through which those funds are being administered. Moreover, DHS is constrained because the costs incurred by the airports prior to October 1, 2021 do not qualify for fiscal year 2022 funds.
With less than 24 hours’ notice of the first incoming flights, the airports quickly facilitated the necessary staffing, processes, and accommodations to provide a comfortable and safe environment for the evacuees. As critical partners in this humanitarian effort, the airports deserve parity with the other supporting organizations who are able to secure reimbursement for their efforts.
Therefore, we respectfully urge you to include the necessary language to ensure that DHS has the authorization and funding to reimburse Dulles International and Philadelphia International for their expenditures related to Operation Allies Welcome.