House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Thursday called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to quickly bring the House back into session to delay the U.S. withdrawal of troops from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan after 12 U.S. service members were killed and 15 others injured in an attack outside the airport in Kabul earlier in the day.
In a statement, McCarthy said Pelosi should bring lawmakers back before Aug. 31, the Biden administration’s deadline for withdrawing U.S. troops, so lawmakers can be “briefed thoroughly and comprehensively” by the administration.
McCarthy also said lawmakers should vote on legislation introduced by Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wisc., that would restrict funds allocated for the withdrawal until President Joe Biden certifies all Americans seeking evacuation have departed the country.
“Today’s attacks are horrific,” he stated. “My prayers go out to those who were injured and the families of those who were killed. I also continue to pray for the safety of our troops, the stranded American citizens, our allies and Afghan partners who remain in the area. Our enemies have taken advantage of the chaotic nature of the withdrawal.”
“It is time for Congress to act quickly to save lives,” McCarthy said, adding: “In the meantime, President Biden must take decisive action to protect our troops, our citizens, and our allies without regard for an arbitrary deadline.”
According to The Hill, House members got a classified briefing on Tuesday about Afghanistan from top Biden administration officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley.
Lawmakers of both parties emerged from the briefing urging Biden to delay his Aug. 31 deadline to withdraw U.S. military forces, and warned that sticking to the date would risk leaving American allies behind, The Hill reported.
Two House members who were blasted for making an unauthorized trip to Kabul this week said that what they saw on the ground ultimately changed their minds about the withdrawal deadline.
Reps. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., and Peter Meijer, R-Mich., have urged the Biden administration to extend the deadline, but told the New York Times on Wednesday that moving quickly will provide the United States with a better chance of Taliban cooperation later on.
"Almost every veteran in Congress wants to extend the Aug. 31 deadline, including us, and our opinion on that was changed on the ground, because we started the evacuations so late. There’s no way we can get everyone out, even by Sept. 11. So we need to have a working relationship with the Taliban after our departure. And the only way to achieve that is to leave by Aug. 31," Moulton said.
Biden was set to speak about the explosions Thursday afternoon.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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