ST. PAUL — Minnesota's congressional delegates on Monday, Aug. 16, split in their response to the United States' withdrawal from Afghanistan and ensuing turmoil as the Taliban regained control of the nation.
The four Republicans on the state's delegation blasted the Biden administration for leaving Americans and U.S. allies in peril, while the six Democrats largely stood with President Joe Biden and said the conflict needed to end after two decades.
The comments come after Taliban forces took over large cities all over Afghanistan weeks ahead of the planned U.S. withdrawal from the country. And in Kabul, thousands of people gathered at the airport in an attempt to flee. Their presence prompted the United States to suspend evacuations, according to Reuters.
And in a televised address Monday, Biden said he stood behind his decision, though he thought the Taliban response was quicker than he expected.
Here's what Minnesota lawmakers had to say about the drawdown of forces and resulting situation in Afghanistan.
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar
The state's senior senator on Monday said she'd been updated on what was going on in Afghanistan and called for the safe removal of Americans and allies from the region.
"I have been briefed on the horrific situation in Afghanistan. Our immediate priority must be ensuring we are doing everything possible to evacuate American citizens and our Afghan allies," Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat, tweeted Monday morning.
U.S. Sen. Tina Smith
"Right now, our focus must be on evacuating Americans, coalition partners, and refugees from Afghanistan," U.S. Sen. Tina Smith, a Democrat, said. "Their lives are at risk because of their support of our mission, and we must do everything we can to ensure their safe evacuation."
1st Congressional District Rep. Jim Hagedorn
Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn condemned the Biden administration's actions as a "failure of leadership" that could have lasting implications.
"The events that have unfolded in Afghanistan are absolutely tragic. President Biden’s hasty withdrawal of U.S. forces is a complete failure of leadership and will cause thousands of families to suffer under the Taliban regime," he said. "This president has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy decision over the past half-century. The American people deserve answers from him on the crisis and how his administration intends to proceed."
2nd Congressional District Rep. Angie Craig
In a series of tweets on Monday, the Rep. Angie Craig said she was saddened to see the news coming out of Kabul as U.S. forces left the region and called for the safe evacuation of U.S. forces, diplomats and allies.
"I am heartbroken by the images coming out of Afghanistan. Right now, I believe that the United States must prioritize enabling the safe departure of all U.S. and allied personnel – and my top priority is providing whatever support is necessary to achieve that goal," the Democrat wrote. "I am also committed to doing everything we can to support the people of Afghanistan — particularly our partners who aided U.S. efforts for nearly two decades as well as the women and girls who deserve the freedom and opportunity that has been promised to them."
3rd Congressional District Rep. Dean Phillips
Third District Rep. Dean Phillips, a Democrat, said the shortcomings in the war with Afghanistan couldn't be connected to one political party and he branded it a "collective failure of the American strategy."
"Enough of the juvenile finger-pointing. Afghanistan isn’t a Democratic failure or Republican failure," Phillips said. "It represents a collective failure of American strategy. Our outstanding military can defend, protect, and keep the peace, but democracies can only be built from the inside."
4th Congressional District Rep. Betty McCollum
U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum, a Democrat representing the state's 4th Congressional District, in a statement on Sunday said failures across multiple presidencies led to the current situation in Kabul. And she said she would pray for a safe return of American citizens and allies to the U.S. as well for the Afghan people set to live under the rule of the Taliban.
“With the Taliban’s capture of Kabul, we are witnessing a human disaster for the Afghan people and the culmination of a two-decade bipartisan political and strategic failure of American leadership," McCollum said. “Politicians and pundits will now start the blame game, but this dreadful outcome is not the fault of any one politician, leader, or administration. This is a whole of government failure in both Washington and Kabul."
"The Afghan people who trusted us will now be living with the consequences. Rather than blame, the Biden administration, Congress, and future American leaders — Democrats and Republicans — need to learn some very hard lessons and make sure such a devastating foreign policy failure never happens again," she continued.
5th Congressional District Rep. Ilhan Omar
Rep. Ilhan Omar, a 5th District Democrat, on Monday said she supported the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and called for an international effort to hold the Kabul airport and evacuate Afghan citizens worried for their safety.
"The hard truth about America's longest war is that for 20 years, we made promises we couldn't keep. The simple fact is that prolonging a war indefinitely would not have delivered a stable, peaceful Afghanistan. I agree with President Biden: an endless American military occupation of Afghanistan was unacceptable," Omar said. "The urgency of the moment before us now demands we marshal an international coalition to evacuate every Afghan who is fleeing for their lives. This is an American responsibility and it is also a NATO responsibility, and it is also a human responsibility."
6th Congressional District Rep. Tom Emmer
"The footage coming out of the Kabul Airport is heartbreaking. Our Afghan allies are heroes, and to leave them behind is unconscionable," Rep. Tom Emmer, a Republican, said on Twitter. "Last month, I sent a letter to President Biden urging him to safely evacuate our Afghan partners who assisted our Armed Forces. Instead, the Administration set no concrete plan of action, and our allies were abandoned. This is a tragedy, and President Biden must answer for it."
7th Congressional District Rep. Michelle Fischbach
Rep. Michelle Fischbach, a Republican representing Minnesota's 7th District, on Monday said the Biden Administration's "incompetence" and "recklessness" put lives on the line.
"What’s happening in Afghanistan is an embarrassment to our nation — a direct result of President Biden’s incompetence and his Administration’s mismanagement of our exit strategy in the Middle East," Fischbach said on Twitter. "As this Administration’s recklessness puts American lives in danger, the president is nowhere to be found. The Biden Administration has abjectly failed in its duty to keep the American people safe, both at home and abroad."
8th Congressional District Rep. Pete Stauber
Republican Rep. Pete Stauber said the situation unfolding was "devastating" and he prayed for the safe evacuation of U.S. forces and allies.
"The situation unfolding in Afghanistan is absolutely devastating and my heart breaks for the civilians, particularly the women and girls, who will undoubtedly face brutal oppression and abuse under the Taliban regime," Stauber said. "I continue to pray for the safety of our military on the ground, U.S. and coalition citizens desperately trying to get out, our Afghan allies who have helped us, like the interpreters and their families, and for every innocent life that is in danger."