Two members of the U.S. House of Representatives traveled to Afghanistan on Tuesday, prompting a warning from the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, who said such trips could divert resources from the evacuation of Americans and Afghans at risk.
The representatives Seth Moulton, a democrat, and Peter Meijer, a Republican, who served in the Iraq war before running for Congress, said in a statement that they went to Kabul to gather information as part of the oversight function of Congress.
“The United States has a moral obligation to our citizens and loyal allies, and we must ensure that that obligation is met,” they said in a statement issued after leaving Kabul, having seen conditions at the airport.
When her visit was made public, Pelosi sent a letter to members of the House that did not mention Moulton or Meijer, but cautioned that the Pentagon and the State Department had asked lawmakers not to travel to Afghanistan “during this time. the dangerous”.
Pelosi, a Democrat, told reporters that a large number of members of the House of Representatives wanted to go to Afghanistan, but said in the letter that such a trip would be unwise.
“Members’ travel to Afghanistan and neighboring countries would unnecessarily divert necessary resources from the priority mission of safely and rapidly evacuating the United States and Afghans at risk from Afghanistan,” he said.
Moulton and Meijer said they left Kabul on an empty-seated plane and sat in dedicated crew seats “to make sure no one who needed a seat lost it due to our presence.”
Lawmakers said before the visit that they wanted President Joe Biden to extend the Aug. 31 deadline for the evacuation to complete and for US troops to leave the country.
“After talking to the commanders on the ground and seeing the situation here, it is obvious that because we started the evacuation so late, no matter what we do, we will not get everyone out in time, not even for 9/11,” they said. said.
Biden has been criticized for not beginning the evacuation earlier and for the chaotic scenes at the Kabul airport, where vulnerable Americans and Afghans are being airlifted out of the country after the Taliban takeover.
The president said Tuesday that U.S. forces had helped evacuate 70,700 people from August 14. He added that the United States is on track to complete evacuations from Afghanistan by Aug. 31, but that reaching that goal depends on continued cooperation from the Taliban.