Daines to introduce bill awarding Congressional Gold Medal to troops killed in Afghanistan

Daines to introduce bill awarding Congressional Gold Medal to troops killed in Afghanistan
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Sen. Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesSenate GOP signals they'll help bail out Biden's Fed chair Senate GOP seeks bipartisan panel to investigate Afghanistan withdrawal Warren, Daines introduce bill honoring 13 killed in Kabul attack MORE (R-Mont.) announced Friday that he is introducing a bill to award the 13 service members killed in Afghanistan with Congressional Gold Medals. 

“The 13 brave service members we lost in Afghanistan following the withdrawal will forever be remembered as heroes. Their service and ultimate sacrifice to protect American lives, our freedoms and our homeland deserves the highest honor,” Daines said in a statement.

“Each and every one of these Americans selflessly answered the call to serve our nation and for that, we are eternally thankful,” he added.

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Thirteen American service members were killed on Aug. 26 when a suicide bombing, believed to have been carried out by ISIS-K, occurred outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. The explosion came as the U.S. military worked to evacuate Americans and Afghan allies from the country.

The service members hailed from 10 states, and ranged in age from 20 years old to 31 years old.

The Pentagon released a list of the service members killed: Staff Sgt. Darin Hoover, 31; Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22; Cpl. Daegan Page, 23; Cpl. Humberto Sanchez, 22; Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz, 20; Lance Cpl. David Espinoza, 20; Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, 20; Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola, 20; Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui, 20; Sgt. Nicole Gee, 23; Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo, 25; Navy Hospitalman Maxton Soviak, 22; and Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss, 23.

The bill — which will be introduced when the Senate returns from recess later this month — will be the Senate companion to the legislation more than 150 House members introduced on Tuesday that seeks to posthumously award a Congressional Gold Medal to the fallen service members.

The House lawmakers said the service members "exemplified extreme bravery and valor against armed enemy combatants," adding that "their heroism deserves great honor."

Thus far, Daines is the only sponsor on the legislation. However, a spokesperson from Daines's office told The Hill that the GOP senator is looking to get co-sponsors on the legislation from both sides of the aisle. 

President BidenJoe BidenHow 'Buy American', other pro-US policies can help advocates pass ambitious climate policies Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by Raytheon Technologies — Biden backtracks on Taiwan Photos of the Week: Manchin protestor, Paris Hilton and a mirror room MORE mourned the loss of the 13 service members on Sunday, when he traveled to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to observe the dignified transfer of the fallen troops. He watched as their remains, in flag-draped cases, were brought to the U.S.

Some family members of the fallen service members, however, have been critical of Biden after meeting with him. One father of a fallen Marine said the gathering “didn’t go well.”

Daines has been critical of the U.S.'s troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, slamming Biden’s decision to pull military personnel from the country and calling the effort a “failure.”

On Thursday, he joined a group of Republican senators in penning a letter to Biden demanding answers regarding the American citizens, green-card holders and visa applicants who are still in Afghanistan after the U.S. completed its withdrawal mission earlier this week.

He was also part of a group of bipartisan senators who wrote a letter to the Department of Veterans Affairs on Tuesday, which urged officials there to aid veterans who are struggling with their mental health following the conclusion of the war in Afghanistan.