House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are demanding the Biden administration give them a “Gang of Eight” classified briefing on the plan to withdraw all Americans from Afghanistan.
The top two congressional Republicans sent Biden a letter, first reported on by Axios, on Wednesday asking for details on the rapidly deteriorating situation in Kabul.
Gang of Eight is the term used to described the eight congressional leaders who are briefed on classified intelligence matters.
“It is of the utmost importance that the U.S. Government account for all U.S. citizens in Afghanistan and provide the necessary information and means of departure to all those Americans who desire to leave the country,” the letter said.
They laid out a number of points they want addressed, including how many Americans are currently in Afghanistan, the government’s ability to communicate with them and how they can safely travel to Kabul’s airport for evacuation flights.
McCarthy and McConnell also want to know the plan for evacuating Americans who can’t safely reach Kabul from other parts of the country.
In addition, the Republicans are seeking details on that status of Taliban discussions.
The Biden administration has faced mounting criticism over the chaotic withdrawal in Afghanistan.
President Biden said on Wednesday he is committed to keeping troops in Afghanistan until every American is evacuated — even if that means maintaining a military presence there beyond his Aug. 31 deadline for withdrawal.
Up to 15,000 Americans remain in Afghanistan after the Taliban regained control of the country last weekend.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Wednesday the US military doesn’t have the forces and firepower to expand its current mission from securing the airport to collecting Americans and at-risk Afghans and escorting them for evacuation.
It comes amid reports that Taliban checkpoints have stopped some designated evacuees.
“I don’t have the capability to go out and extend operations currently into Kabul,” Austin said.
“And where do you take that? How far do you extend into Kabul, and how long does it take to flow those forces in to be able to do that?”