U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, a Tifton Republican, joined in the criticism, describing the U.S. exit from Afghanistan as a “colossal failure.” He encouraged House and Senate leaders to call lawmakers back to Washington immediately for closed-door intelligence briefings, saying that members were mostly relying on media reports for updates on the situation.
“At least you should bring back the Armed Services Committee, the Intelligence Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee,” he said. “And by the time you do that you’ve got a significant portion of Congress back. But we need to be having bipartisan, bicameral meetings about a couple of issues. One is, how are we going to get our people — and when I say our people, I mean American citizens and the people who have fought with us in Afghanistan — out?”
Congress can exert some oversight through investigations and hearings if its leaders ask Biden officials, government agencies and watchdog groups for testimony. There is a chance the fall of the Afghan government becomes the latest international issue to fuel a partisan feud in Washington.
That is why Democrats are being careful about what they say and generally avoiding criticism of the Biden administration.
U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock’s initial silence on the issue provided fodder for Republican opponents. He released a statement late Monday that said he was saddened by the events in Afghanistan and monitoring the situation, but he did not address Biden’s response.
U.S. Reps. Carolyn Bourdeaux, a moderate, and Hank Johnson, whose anti-war streak is well-known, have been the most vocal Democrats from the state’s delegation on the issue. Bourdeaux, who lives in Suwanee, was one of the few members of her party nationwide to say Biden has room for improvement.
“The President and his administration do need to take responsibility for what has happened and work immediately to repair the situation by ensuring that we do everything possible to evacuate those who stood by us during this conflict,” she said in a statement.
Johnson, from Lithonia, said the exit of U.S. troops from Afghanistan always carried risks of becoming “messy,” but he stood by the Biden administration’s decision to do so.
“It’s time,” he said, “to bring the chaos to an end.”