Subscribe to The Brief, our daily newsletter that keeps readers up to date on Texas ’most essential news.
WASHINGTON – Despite the tumultuous four days of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, Texans in Congress have expressed differing views on President Joe Biden’s management of this mission.
Texas Republicans, including some who are military veterans, have criticized the Biden administration. But Republicans are not currently in power in Washington, DC. This means that much of the government’s consequences depend on Biden himself, or it is in the hands of Democrats who control the committees that oversee U.S. foreign policy and national security.
And Texas Congress Democrats have mixed opinions and some criticism of how the withdrawal has gone down.
“I agree that this administration should have been working long before to evacuate many of the people who are desperate to flee now,” said U.S. Representative Joaquin Castro of San Antonio, who is part of the Committee on Home Affairs of the United States. “This is a point with which I think almost everyone agrees, that these preparations, these evacuations should have started more urgently and sooner.”
An estimated 15,000 Americans have been fighting to leave Afghanistan since the Taliban quickly took control of the country, according to the news. Afghan allies, such as translators who have served in the U.S. military for the past twenty years, are also desperate to leave the country.
Biden ran for president in 2020 promising competent governance, but his success on this front was called into question when horrific images and reports emerged from Afghanistan in recent days.
Two of the top members of the Democratic delegation, U.S. Representatives Eddie Bernice Johnson of Dallas and Sheila Jackson Lee of Houston, were firm in their support of Biden’s decision to follow the former president’s withdrawal agreement. Donald Trump with the Taliban. They also approved the execution of this plan by Biden.
“I want the American people to understand: give us a chance to move on and do what we’re supposed to do,” said Jackson Lee, who is part of the U.S. House National Security Committee. . “If we don’t do what we’re supposed to do, that’s another story.”
Jackson Lee, like many other Democrats, blamed Trump and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for foreign policy, which he described as “a complete failure.”
Other Democrats have described former President George W. Bush’s mission as flawed from the start, and there has been much blame on the Afghan government for not tidying up its home for the past 20 years.
Both Jackson Lee and Johnson were one of six Texans in Congress who remain in office for nearly 20 years after appearing in his life at the United States Capitol on September 11, 2001. Both also voted to authorize the force in Afghanistan in retaliation for the attacks on America that day.
Johnson said she is “as frustrated as everyone else,” but she supported Biden and said the U.S. military presence could not continue unchanged.
“I really can’t tell you I don’t agree,” Johnson said. “What worries me is the consequences, but we will overcome it, I hope. I don’t think this country is ready for a continuous war. “
Colin Allred, a second-year U.S. representative, is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“Our mission in Afghanistan no longer served our national interests, although it cost us dearly. @POTUS he is right, it was time to end this war forever ”. Allred wrote on Twitter.
But other Texas Democrats were suspicious.
U.S. Representative Marc Veasey, who serves on the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, called the situation “tragic.”
“I support the decision to bring our troops home after 20 long years, but I also think we need to answer the difficult questions about why we were no longer prepared to respond to the crisis that is unfolding,” he said. said the Fort Worth Democrat in a statement.
The most critical statement at the time was from US Representative Vicente Gonzalez de McAllen, who serves on the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee. Shortly after an briefing on Sunday with members of the House and senior State Department and Pentagon officials, Gonzalez tweeted, “There is no way to hide it. The situation in Afghanistan is another shame. for this administrator “.
“Withdrawal would never be easy, but there was no need to get to that,” he added. “The United States must do everything possible to help our partners and allies protect and safeguard our national security.”
Some Texas Democrats are reserving the trial.
“My thoughts are with our U.S. troops, civilian personnel and Afghan partners, that we must work to evacuate as quickly and safely as possible,” U.S. Rep. Lizzie Pannill Fletcher said Sunday.
His colleague Houstonian, American representative Al Green, described the moment as a “sensitive moment”.
“I am of the opinion that this is one of those times when we need to be very careful about how we position our thoughts because it has a challenge and there will be time to critique what is happening and what has happened,” Green said. who is a member of the U.S. House National Security Committee.
He added that he is haunted by the fate that awaits Afghan women and girls.
“But as long as our people are there and are in danger and as long as that circumstance seems to be a bit volatile, I think I will wait to make my assessment until circumstances have changed,” he said.
Biden has a unique position among many Texas Democratic members. He is much more committed to Capitol Hill than his two predecessors. As a result, he formed a well of goodwill for Democratic members of Congress at the beginning of his term.
And this is, after all, the state delegation where many soon supported Biden, and campaigned hard enough for Texas to effectively help hand over the Democratic candidacy to Biden in March last year.
However, Republican jeans have unleashed the president.
U.S. Representative Dan Crenshaw of Houston lost an eye while serving in Afghanistan.
“The scenes in Kabul speak for themselves, causing embarrassment and embarrassment to the world’s largest superpower,” he wrote in the Wall Street Journal. “There is a lot of blame going on, including the ‘neocons’, the generals and the Afghans themselves.”
“But what brought us here was the widespread belief that American foreign policy should be dictated by a simple slogan:‘ No more endless wars, ’” he added. “The current spokesman for this belief is President Biden.”
Another Texas veteran, U.S. Representative August Pfluger of Midland, is furious and has signaled previous hearings with State Department and Pentagon leaders before the withdrawal.
“In the last four or five months, we were asking all the questions that now come up and that are such a disaster and a big problem,” said Pfluger, who is part of the House’s foreign affairs and national security committees.
Castro suggested some of the Republican Party’s criticism had politics behind it, but also said some Republicans have advocated fair criticism. He added that all presidencies “will have some erroneous and critical steps”.
He indicated that he believed that the size of the United States in the world would withstand the crisis.
“These images are never good for any nation, but I think if you take a step back and think about the role that the United States plays in the world as a country that defends freedom, democracy and human rights, I think this notion of America still prevails, ”he said.
“I’m sure you will.”
Join us September 20-25 at Texas Tribune Festival 2021. Tickets are on sale now for this celebration of several days of great, bold ideas about politics, public policy, and news of the day, curated by the winners journalists from The Texas Tribune. Learn more.