Combat veteran and U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, joined Martha Raddatz on ABC This Week to discuss the situation in Afghanistan. Excerpts from the interview are below.
On getting Americans safely out of Afghanistan:
“We should be doing everything possible to get Americans safely to the airport for evacuation. We are the strongest military on the face of this planet and we should be exercising those authorities to make sure that we are flexing our military muscle—especially when it comes to evacuating Americans.”
On vetting and evacuating Afghan allies:
“We have been on the Administration for months now to be working on the vetting process—to make sure we’re working with those interpreters—to get them safely out of the country. The State Department, it has drug it’s feet, it has moved so slowly, and now we’re at a point where these Afghan interpreters—other partners—are in deep jeopardy with the Taliban because they weren’t able to get their vetting done on time. So it is important that we continue pressing on with this…we should be doing absolutely everything we can to assist those who assisted us for the past two decades in the Global War on Terror.”
On President Biden’s poor planning:
“…it is so important that we continue wrking with these third country nations providing them with whatever support we can in those countries, and this is where President Biden unfortunately has really—he has messed it up, I’ll just put it out there—of course with our international community with this haphazard withdrawal. If we had been working with those allies, those partner countries, this would’ve been a lot easier. He knew this day was coming, and again, was very slow to respond to the needs of not only our American citizens—by pulling those troops out before we had them safely out of Afghanistan—but he’s also again jeopardized those that were partners to us through an extended war on terror.”
In a letter to both the Secretaries of State and Defense earlier this week, Ernst called on the Biden Administration to provide answers on the safety of American citizens and details on the plans to get them out of Afghanistan. Ernst also urged President Biden to fulfill his “solemn responsibility to evacuate all American citizens and Afghan partners without respect to arbitrary timelines dictated by the Taliban.”
In May, Ernst teamed up with Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) to lead a bipartisan effort to express widespread support in the Senate for the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program for Afghans, and to urge continued support from the administration to uphold the integrity of the program. Their bipartisan bill to provide immediate improvements to and strengthen the efficiency of the Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program was signed into law.
This week, Ernst and Shaheen led 53 of their colleagues in urging the administration to address the quickly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and implement the Ernst-Shaheen SIV bill.