By seizing $9.4 billion of the Afghan central bank’s own reserves, the White House has welcomed death and destruction.

By Sara Sirota, The Intercept

Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., has secured a vote today on President Joe Biden’s refusal to release to the Afghan central bank $9.4 billion of its own foreign reserves, The Intercept has learned. It will mark the first-ever vote on the White House’s lethal policy of asset denial that’s causing the displacement, starvation, and death of millions of Afghans.

Jayapal introduced her measure as an amendment to a gigantic anti-China bill that would subsidize the U.S. semiconductor and other industries with hundreds of billions of dollars and ratchet up military activities in the Indo-Pacific region. The House of Representatives is planning to hold a floor vote on the legislation — called the America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing, Pre-Eminence in Technology and Economic Strength, or COMPETES, Act — this week.

An Afghan girl stands in the middle of a refugee camp in Afghanistan

Jayapal’s provision, drafted with Rep. Jesús García, D-Ill., would require the secretary of the Treasury to provide Congress with an assessment of the humanitarian suffering caused by U.S. sanctions on Afghanistan and its confiscation of the country’s foreign-held money. It would also mandate a review of illicit financial activities with China amid a breakdown of Afghanistan’s banking system.

At least eight other amendments to the broader bill target Afghanistan, reflecting a range of approaches to sanctions and relief. One provision sanctions individuals for trading the country’s rare earth minerals; another provides visas for Afghan Fulbright scholars. But none call out the Biden administration for its asset seizure.

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