Congress poised to grill Biden officials on messy Afghanistan exit

( )- Many people have been criticizing the Biden administration over the last few weeks over the completely botched handling of the U.S. exit from Afghanistan.

Now, the administration is set to face a barrage of questions from both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

It’s possible that Biden administration officials could find themselves before a House panel as early as next week, when the House returns for a bit from its summer recess. The House will be in session for a few days next week before departing Washington again until later in September.

On Wednesday, both House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wrote a letter to President Joe Biden requesting that either a call or briefing be held next week for the “Gang of Eight.” That group includes the four top leaders in Congress as well as the top members of both the Senate and House Intelligence Committees.

It’s not all a Republican effort to question Biden administration officials, though. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also requested three briefings of her own.

She wants to hold a telephone call that would be unclassified for every member of the House next Friday. Then, she wants a classified briefing to be held Tuesday. Finally, she also wants a “Gang of Eight” briefing to be held at a future date.

In addition, Pelosi said the House’s Foreign Affairs Committee next week would hold a hearing with “the highest level officials in the Biden administration … That will take place early next week. At least it will begin then.”

The chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, New York Democratic Representative Gregory Meeks, said he’s already invited both Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken to testify at the eventual hearings.

He commented:

“The situation in Afghanistan is rapidly changing and it is imperative that the administration provide the American people and Congress transparency about its Afghanistan strategy.”

In addition, Meeks said he wanted to hear what “the administration’s plan is to safely evacuate American citizens, [special immigrant visa holders], and other vulnerable Afghans from the country, and to understand our broader counter terrorism strategy in South Asia following the collapse of the Ghani government.”

On Wednesday, a spokesperson for the House Armed Services Committee said they are also “in the process of scheduling closed briefings for Members to receive most current information.”

That statement came from Monica Matoush, who also said that Representative Adam Smith, the chairman of the committee, is “in contact with [White House] and [Department of Defense] officials,” trying to urge them “to do everything in their power to safely evacuate” all Afghan nationals who aided the American military over the last 20 years, in addition to all U.S. personnel.

Over in the Senate, two committee leaders said they’d hold hearings regarding the negotiations held among the Trump administration, Afghanistan’s government and the Taliban. Then, they’d probe how the Biden administration eventually miscalculated how rapidly Afghanistan could fall to the Taliban.