Two bipartisan House members visited Afghanistan this week to witness the ongoing chaos, and are urging President Joe Biden to extend the Aug. 31 deadline for withdrawing U.S. troops from the country.
Reps. Peter Meijer, R-Mich., and Seth Moulton, D-Mass., both service veterans, secretly visited Kabul “to gather information, not to grandstand,” they said in a joint statement shared by Washington Post reporter Matt Viser.
Moulton tweeted that the two lawmakers visited Kabul airport on Tuesday “to conduct oversight on the evacuation.”
“We came into this visit wanting, like most veterans, to push the president to extend the August 31st deadline,” Meijer and Moulton said in their joint statement.
“After talking with commanders on the ground and seeing the situation here, it is obvious that because we started the evacuation so late, that no matter what we do, we won’t get everyone out on time, even by September 11.”
Meijer and Moulton said they met with “Marines, soldiers and dedicated State Department officials” during their visit to Kabul.
“Washington should be ashamed of the position we put our service members in, but they represent the best in America,” the lawmakers said.
The two men said they conducted their visit “in secret” to “minimize the risk and disruption to people on the ground.”
“We left on a plane with empty seats, seated in crew-only seats to ensure that nobody who needed a seat would lose one because of our presence,” they said.
The lawmakers’ trip to Afghanistan angered Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
According to a tweet by Washington Post reporter John Hudson, “It CANNOT be overstated how angry Pentagon & State Dept officials are at Rep. Moulton & Rep. Peter Meijer for flying to Afghanistan in the middle of an evacuation. ‘It’s as moronic as it is selfish. They’re taking seats away from Americans,’ official says.”
Politico obtained a letter that Pelosi sent to House members on Tuesday evening.
“Member travel to Afghanistan and the surrounding countries would unnecessarily divert needed resources from the priority mission of safely and expeditiously evacuating America and Afghans at risk from Afghanistan,” Pelosi said in the letter.
At least one Democrat House member took to Twitter to slam her two colleagues.
“Whether it is Haiti or Afghanistan, taking up space in a disaster zone for your own ego helps no one,” Rep. Sara Jacobs, D-Calif., tweeted.