House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., criticized two congressmen for making a secret trip to Kabul, characterizing the choice to enter the region as "deadly serious."
In a press conference Wednesday morning, Pelosi railed against Reps. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., and Peter Meijer, R-Mich., both of whom are veterans.
"There's a real concern about members being in the region," adding later, "we do not want members to go."
Tensions are high on Capitol Hill as the White House continues to evacuate American citizens and Afghan allies from the country before the White House's Aug. 31 deadline.
In a joint statement Tuesday evening, Moulton and Meijer announced that they had traveled to Afghanistan "in secret" and then cast doubt on the Biden administration's withdrawal deadline.
"We came into this visit wanting, like most veterans, to push the president to extend the August 31st deadline," the statement said. "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. Sadly and frustratingly, getting our people out depends on maintaining the current, bizarre relationship with the Taliban."
In remarks on Tuesday, President Biden had reaffirmed his commitment to finishing efforts in Afghanistan by Aug. 31, which is this coming Tuesday. The White House says that so far, the U.S. and coalition countries have evacuated 82,300 people since Aug. 14. Biden has promised that Secretary of State Antony Blinken will provide a "detailed" report on Wednesday on how many Americans remain and how many have been evacuated so far.
News of Moulton and Meijer's trip to the region prompted uproar from both White House officials and congressional leaders. In a letter issued Tuesday night, Pelosi initially condemned the two lawmakers' decision to leave while the evacuation effort is underway.
"Member travel to the 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 wrote.
In her press conference the following morning, she tentatively stuck by the White House's Aug. 31 deadline but voiced that many members were pushing for an extension.
"People really want to encourage the president to stay longer, but he has to, as I say, weigh the equities of the danger, versus the advantage, and I trust his judgment," Pelosi said.
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