House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) told Republican members in an Aug. 29 letter that he’s pushing Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to convene the House immediately with the goal of extending President Joe Biden’s Afghanistan evacuation deadline and to get answers to several questions regarding the U.S. withdrawal from the country.
“Given the grave and immediate situation in Afghanistan, I have urged Speaker Pelosi to bring the House back into session before August 31 so we can receive a classified briefing from the Biden Administration on the next course of action and pass Representative Gallagher’s legislation to prohibit the withdrawal of our troops until every American is out of Afghanistan,” McCarthy wrote.
He told Republican members that while this week’s House schedule doesn’t have members on Capitol Hill, he’s in Washington to work with House Republican members who have served in the military to push the issue with leadership.
McCarthy warned that his conference will file a discharge petition to vote on Rep. Mike Gallagher’s (R-Wis.) bill to extend the Aug. 31 evacuation deadline, if the speaker doesn’t comply with the calls to convene the House to handle the Afghanistan issue.
According to the Congressional Research Service (pdf), “the ‘discharge rule’ (Rule XV, clause 2) provides a means for Members to bring to the floor for consideration a public bill or resolution that has been referred to committee but not reported. Discharge is generally the only procedure by which Members can secure consideration of a measure without cooperation from the committee of referral or the majority party leadership and the Committee on Rules.”
“Should the Speaker continue to shrink from her responsibility, we will file a discharge petition on legislation that will empower our military with the support they need to get Americans home. We will then lean on each of you to communicate the human stories of our fellow countrymen still in Afghanistan by meeting and doing events with local veterans in your districts and continuing to message on TV and local media,” McCarthy wrote.
Although the speaker hasn’t called the House back in an effort to extend the evacuation deadline, she did tell members on Aug. 24 that additional briefings would be held to provide members more information about the Afghanistan evacuation.
“I have requested that the Executive Branch keep members informed of developments in Afghanistan. In addition to today’s classified all-member briefing, several calls have been held for members and committees and personal staff. Throughout this week, various committees of jurisdiction will continue to hold Afghanistan briefings. Additional events are also being scheduled for committees and staff,” Pelosi said in a statement.
McCarthy also told Republican members that they should take all opportunities, including the upcoming committee workdays, on which funding legislation such as the National Defense Authorization Act and mark-ups of Democrat reconciliation will be debated, to “exert maximum pressure” on the Democrat majority to make Afghanistan the focus.
House members are currently conducting work in their districts, but are scheduled back on Aug. 31 for committee work.
McCarthy said once all Americans are safely evacuated from Afghanistan, the House’s focus must switch to getting answers from the administration about why the military withdrew without taking steps to secure American citizens and military equipment, and why the Biden administration allegedly shared intelligence with the Taliban.
“Transparency in this matter is paramount, and our ranking members are already making formal requests for document and record preservation pertinent to the Administration’s decision-making surrounding this debacle,” he wrote.
Pelosi’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment on McCarthy’s letter by press time.