Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., is leading a group of Republican senators pressuring President Joe Biden for details on who remains in Afghanistan following the U.S. military’s withdrawal earlier this week, Politico reports.
Cotton and 25 GOP colleagues want to know how many Americans, green card holders, and special immigrant visa applicants who assisted U.S. operations remain in the Taliban-controlled country, Politico said.
The lawmakers wrote Biden on Thursday morning.
“Our immediate priority is the safety and well-being of American citizens, permanent residents, and allies who were left behind in Afghanistan,” they wrote in the letter, a copy of which was provided to Politico.
“We are also concerned by reports that ineligible individuals, including Afghans with ties to terrorist organizations or serious, violent criminals, were evacuated alongside innocent refugee families.”
A State Department official told Politico that a majority of special immigrant visa applicants (SIVs) were left behind because of the complexities of the final few days of withdrawal.
Republicans are also concerned about the vetting of evacuees who are not citizens, green card holders, or SIVs.
The senators’ letter asks Biden how many evacuees “had no pending immigration application or status with the United States prior to being airlifted?”
The group of senators that wrote Biden is comprised of hawks, moderates and non-interventionalists. They included Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas; Josh Hawley, R-Mo.; and Susan Collins, R-Maine.
“The signatories of this letter may have differing opinions about whether the United States should have maintained a military presence in Afghanistan, but we all agree that the arbitrary and poorly-planned method by which you withdrew from Afghanistan caused this crisis,” the letter read, Poltico reported.
Even some Biden administration members are breaking from the president on his having left Americans behind in order to stick to the Aug. 31 withdrawal deadline, a source told Politico.
“I am absolutely appalled and literally horrified we left Americans there,” an unnamed White House official told Politico after Biden’s address on the official end of the U.S. military’s war in Afghanistan.
Republicans’ focus on Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan intensified after a suicide bomber last week killed 13 U.S. soldiers and numerous Afghan civilians, including women and children. The terrorist group ISIS-K claimed responsibility.
A few Senate Democrats, including Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., and Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., asked Biden to continue evacuations past Aug. 31.