House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) calls on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to call members of Congress back for an emergency session to assess the Afghanistan situation and pass legislation to extend the Aug. 31 deadline.
“It is time for Congress to act quickly to save lives. Speaker Pelosi must bring Congress back into session before August 31 so that we can be briefed thoroughly and comprehensively by the Biden Administration and pass Representative Gallagher’s legislation prohibiting the withdrawal of our troops until every American is out of Afghanistan,” McCarthy said in a statement.
Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) introduced a bill this week to stop President Joe Biden from withdrawing until all Americans are out of Afghanistan.
“It’s time for this body, this Congress to act, to hold the administration accountable and save lives. This bill would do that by requiring daily reporting to Congress on the number of Americans left in the country, and the number of Afghan allies that are seeking refuge. The bill also critically prohibits the president from withdrawing our forces until all Americans who want out are safely out of the country. Right now it seems the president is doubling down on this Aug. 31 withdrawal date,” Gallagher said during an Aug. 24 speech on the House floor.
He said it might be too late to save face but not too late to save lives because anyone left behind in Afghanistan will be in grave danger from the Taliban.
Pelosi told reporters on Wednesday that she trusts the president’s judgment with regard to the withdrawal date.
“The judgment about leaving is a judgment that the president has made, and he has to balance the equities of what is the threat to our military and the people at the airport versus the advantage of staying. And that’s kind of what he said yesterday. But I think we may—more will unfold in that regard,” said Pelosi.
Meanwhile, McCarthy criticized Pelosi and Democrats for not spending any time this week on solving the Afghanistan crisis but instead holding votes to pass $5 trillion in spending.
“How much time do we spend on finding more Americans that were actually there? What we could have done is actually take up Gallagher’s bill. Tell us how many Americans are there right now. Make a statement of Congress where we’re co-equal branches, that we will not leave until every American comes home,” McCarthy said, responding to a reporter who asked what Congress could do to make any difference in Afghanistan.
“At the very least, that’s what we should have done. We should have held hearings of what more do we need there. Do we need more troops there to make sure it’s safer, to get people home faster? Then do it. Send the message to the president. We’re our own body. We can speak for ourselves, and we should. But under this majority, the Speaker decided we would not. The only thing we would speak about is $5 trillion for a socialist wishlist,” McCarthy added.
Pelosi, however, said Congress’s time was well spent in a voting session to pass Biden’s economic agenda.
“We had such a good day in the Congress [Tuesday]. I want to salute my Caucus for the commitment to values that they demonstrated in accepting the President’s budget, the Build Back Better initiative,” Pelosi told reporters.