House

Meeks invites Blinken, Austin to testify about situation in Afghanistan

Stefani Reynolds

Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to testify before his panel about Afghanistan. 

Meeks in a statement on Tuesday said the panel wants to hear about “the administration’s plan is to safely evacuate American citizens” as well as Afghans who are vulnerable or who worked with the U.S. government.

He said the panel also wants to hear from the two officials on the broader counterterrorism strategy following the collapse of the U.S.-backed government in Afghanistan.

Meeks is the first panel chair to officially invite members of the Biden administration to testify before Congress on the unraveling situation in Afghanistan.

The House, per a spokesperson for Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), is still working to finalize a closed-door briefing for all members next week.

President Biden has defended his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from the nation’s longest war in the wake of the Taliban’s quick takeover of the country.

The U.S. exit, and its handling by the Biden administration, has come under bipartisan criticism, with Republicans signaling they intend to make it a major issue in the midterm elections.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), Meeks’s counterpart on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said on Sunday that Biden “totally blew this one,” adding that his administration “completely underestimated the strength of the Taliban.”

Biden attributed the swift fall of Afghanistan, which he acknowledged as a surprise, to the decision by Afghan leaders to flee the nation and the failure of the country’s military to fight. He said those developments bolstered his decision to pull military forces from the country.

Jordain Carney contributed to this report.

Tags Antony Blinken Gregory Meeks Joe Biden Lloyd Austin Michael McCaul Nancy Pelosi

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