It seemed like bipartisanship when lawmakers from both parties reportedly stormed out of a Biden administration briefing on Afghanistan yesterday. Republican and Democrat members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee were frustrated because State Department, Pentagon, Department of Homeland Security, and National Security officials reportedly failed to answer their basic questions, according to three unnamed CNN sources.
A Democratic aide reportedly later told CNN some members left Wednesday’s classified briefing because some Republican members weren’t wearing masks, adding many of his members are satisfied with engagement from the State Department.
The network report didn’t give examples of what questions were asked and not answered but it continued on to address the issue of Americans remaining in Afghanistan.
Some lawmakers reportedly told CNN they don’t understand why the State Department continues to say there are about 100 Americans still in Afghanistan who want out. The department’s initial number was 100 but they evacuated more than 75 Americans from Afghanistan in the last few weeks. So, why hasn’t the number changed.
U.S. House Representative Michael McCaul (R- Texas) isn’t sure administration officials even know how many Americans are still trapped in Afghanistan. State Department officials claim the dynamic situation on the ground prevents them from giving an exact number.
McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Wednesday told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “The Lead” that everybody walked out of the meeting. “You know, the fact is, I believe there’s still hundreds of Americans still left behind enemy lines,” McCaul told Tapper.
“I don’t think they know all the answers, quite honestly,” he said of the administration.
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Officials say it takes a tremendous amount of work to coordinate between the US, Qatar and the Taliban to give background checks on people who don’t have all their necessary documents. Afghanistan evacuation efforts continue to bring Americans home, including one weekend flight with more 21 US citizens on board. Officials say there’s a lot of work needed to coordinate between the US, Qatar and the Taliban for background checks on people who don’t have all their necessary documents.
Biden’s goal is to make the evacuation flights from Afghanistan routine but that can only be achieved when commercial flights freely arrive and depart Kabul airport which could be a few more weeks, State Department officials said.