House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday, Aug. 26, issued two statements on Afghanistan-related issues, condemning the terrorist attacks outside the Kabul airport and warning lawmakers not to travel to the country.
In the first statement, Pelosi said that the House “strongly condemns the heinous terrorist attack outside Kabul airport,” which killed at least 13 Americans and 60 Afghans and injured dozens of others earlier on Thursday.
“We mourn the loss of every innocent life taken, and we join every American in heartbreak over the deaths of the servicemembers killed,” she said.
According to the Pentagon, a suicide bomber detonated an explosion that tore through a crowd waiting at a Hamid Karzai International Airport entrance. Thousands of people were gathered there, desperately waiting to board flights out of Afghanistan after the Taliban took control. Another explosion struck a nearby hotel.
The bombings came as the Biden administration evacuated U.S. forces and Afghan allies from Afghanistan, with the original deadline set for Aug. 31.
“Since the end of July, over 100,000 people have been evacuated from Afghanistan with the assistance of the U.S. military and allied forces,” Pelosi said. ”As we continue this process, Congress, on a bipartisan basis, remains deeply concerned about the security and humanitarian situation in Afghanistan.”
“As we work with the Biden Administration to bring stability to the situation, Congress must continue to be kept closely informed, which is why I have requested that the Executive Branch continue to brief Members,” she continued.
In the second statement, the House speaker reiterated a message delivered earlier this week, urging the Congress members not to go to Afghanistan amid a number of lawmakers having gone or trying to go there covertly.
“Sadly, the gravity of the situation in Afghanistan necessitates reiterating that Members must not request or plan visits to the region,” she said.
“The Departments of Defense and State have explicitly stated that Member travel to Afghanistan and surrounding countries would unnecessarily divert needed resources from the priority mission of safely and expeditiously evacuating Americans and Afghans at risk. It should be clear that any Member presence presents a danger and an opportunity cost of resources, regardless of whatever value that Members consider they may add by such trips,” she continued.
While mourning the loss of life of American service members, Pelosi said that Congress is grateful to the U.S. military, diplomatic and intelligence communities for their mission.
In a tweet on Thursday, the speaker said she ordered the flags at the U.S. Capitol to be flown at half-staff to honor the U.S. troops and other victims killed in the bombings.