Two members of Congress secretly traveled to Kabul on Tuesday without permission to witness the frantic evacuation of Americans and Afghans, infuriating Biden administration officials and prompting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to urge other lawmakers not to follow their lead.
The two members – Rep. Seth Moulton, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Peter MejerD., a Republican from Michigan, both veterans — said in a statement that the purpose of their trip was to “provide oversight for the executive branch.” Both lawmakers have angered the Biden administration in recent weeks, accusing top officials of failing to evacuate American citizens and Afghan allies.
They said, “There is no place in the world now where censorship is more important.”
But administration officials were outraged that Mr. Moulton and Mr. Major entered Afghanistan on an unauthorized and unannounced trip, arguing that efforts to sponsor lawmakers had drained desperately needed resources to help evacuate those already in the country.
The trip was Earlier reported by The Associated Press.
Mr. Moulton and Mr. Major said they left Afghanistan “on a plane with empty seats, sitting in the crew’s seats only to ensure that no one who needs a seat is lost because of our presence”, and that they have taken another seat. Steps to “reduce risks and disturbances to people on the ground”. They were in Kabul less than 24 hours.
However, Pelosi lobbied other lawmakers not to do the same.
“Member travel to Afghanistan and neighboring countries will unnecessarily preclude the resources required from the priority mission of safely and expeditiously evacuating Americans and Afghans at risk from Afghanistan,” Pelosi wrote in a letter. She did not name Mr. Moulton and Mr. Major.
In their statement Tuesday night, members of Congress stressed their criticism of the administration’s handling of the evacuation, saying that “Washington should be ashamed of the position we have placed our service members in” and that the situation they witnessed on the ground was more dire. than they expected.
They wrote: “After speaking with commanders on the ground and seeing the situation here, it is clear that we started the evacuation very late, and no matter what we do, we will not get everyone out on time.”