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GOP lawmakers are calling on the Biden administration to reverse its decision to end the US evacuation of Afghanistan, blasting the White House for vacating the country by a Aug. 31 deadline despite leaving Americans and Afghan allies behind.
The Republicans are demanding that Biden make good on his promise to ensure every American who wants to leave can — amid an estimate from the Pentagon on Tuesday that at least 250 Americans remain stranded in the country.
One congressional source noted that figure could be much higher — since Biden officials are not also counting Americans who wanted to evacuate but would not do so without their families.
The GOPers pushing for an extended evacuation deadline also called on the Democratic-controlled Congress to provide more detailed information about what the administration is up to when it comes to Afghanistan.
Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) had proposed legislation that would require the administration to provide information on the number of US citizens who remain in Afghanistan and an Inspector General report on any agreements that may take place with the Taliban. His bill also called for Congress to be provided with a status report on what military equipment and classified material were left in the country. The bill included language to bar any federal funding from being sent to the Taliban.
Republicans tried to bring the Gallagher bill up for approval in the House on Tuesday during a pro forma session but were ultimately blocked by Democrats on the floor. The full Congress is not in session.
“It is time for Congress to step up,” Gallagher told reporters on Tuesday. “Because of the administration bungling this withdrawal, it’s too late to save face. We look weak, our allies are questioning our commitment, our enemies are seeking to test us. It’s too late to save face. But we can still save lives.
“We can still get Americans out of the country, and we have to do that, we have a moral obligation as Americans to do that.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who led the press conference with GOP veteran lawmakers, reiterated his calls for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to call Congress back into session to address the crisis abroad.
“Just two weeks ago, the president promised this nation that he would not leave until every single American was out. We’re two weeks away of the 20th anniversary of 9/11. We now have Americans stuck in Afghanistan, the Taliban in charge with more weaponry than they’ve ever had in the past and a border that is open,” McCarthy said.
“Speaker Pelosi, now was not the time to act like you could not see us on the floor, now is not the time to hide. We are a coequal branch, now is the time for leadership in Congress, and we will lead.”