Aug 24, 2021
Steve Scalise & House GOP Press Conference on Afghanistan Transcript August 24
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise and other GOP representatives held a press conference criticizing Biden’s response to the situation in Afghanistan on August 24, 2021. Read the transcript of the briefing here.
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Steve Scalise: (00:00)
… a number of members of Congress who served in Afghanistan. And the first thing we want to say to all of those men and women who’ve served our great country is thank you for your service. And to those Americans who are still abandoned behind enemy lines, we want to let you know you are our top priority. Our number one priority here as House Republicans is to make sure every single American who has been stranded behind enemy lines is safely returned home to the United States. That should be all of our focus this week. It’s really disgraceful that Speaker Pelosi this week brought us back to raise taxes on Americans here at home, rather than to help come up with a strategy to rescue Americans that President Biden abandoned in Afghanistan. That’s what we should be doing here. In fact, some of my colleagues have legislation to help aid and expedite the ability to get Americans back.
Steve Scalise: (01:05)
We’ve been asking President Biden, “How many Americans were abandoned behind enemy lines?” They won’t even give us that basic answer. We’ve also asked, what is their plan to help all of our allies, the interpreters who helped so many of our military stay safe during that conflict? Another question that’s been asked a lot is who has an accounting of all of the American equipment and technology that are now in the hands of the Taliban to use against us? This is a terrorist organization, the Taliban, and they now have control of a country because of President Biden’s failed policy. We still have an open Southern border. Many of us have been down to that border. What we see is alarming. Our border patrol agents tell us that it’s a wide open border. In fact, the drug cartels in Mexico have more control of the Southern border right now than the Biden administration. We’ve seen people on the terrorist watch list come across our Southern border and get into the United States.
Steve Scalise: (02:09)
That’s even more of a concern now that a terrorist organization doesn’t just have a foothold to train terrorists to come back to the United States. They now are in control of a country in Afghanistan. And we’ve been talking to a lot of our allies around the world. They are disgraced by what they’re seeing in the leadership here of President Biden. We’ve seen it on the floor of the Parliament in England, expressing disgust with this president, how he abandoned our allies. There’s a lot of damage to pick up as we look at what’s in front of us, but what we know right now is we want our focus and we want President Biden’s focus on rescuing every American who he left behind enemy lines, and to give us an accounting of who they are. We’re going to continue press for legislation on the House floor to confront that this week, while speaker Pelosi is more focused on trying to raise taxes and spend trillions of dollars rather than work with us to answer these questions.
Steve Scalise: (03:12)
Now I want to bring up one of my House colleagues, not only the leader of the Doctors Caucus, but also a veteran who served in Afghanistan, Dr. Brad, Windstrup.
Brad Windstrup: (03:26)
Just for the record … well one, thank you all for being here. For the record, I served in Iraq. And I have a quote that I’d like to share with all of you from one of the interpreters that I supported in coming to the United States. He is now a physician and a US citizen, as is his entire family. And when all this started unraveling last week, he sent me a text and he said, “It’s very, very disheartening.” American morality is being tested and it’s not doing well so far. Our morality, our reputation, our trustworthiness is all on the line. And those who serve understand it best. In April, we formed a bipartisan group called Honoring Our Promises. We were a task force. We were issuing warnings.
Brad Windstrup: (04:17)
This is in April, issuing warnings to the administration, how concerned we were about getting those that assisted us in theater out of country safely, because we felt that everything was going to fall, their lives were on the line, and the time was now. At that point, we were just worried about our SIVs. Now we’re worried about US citizens. There’s a lot to the expression, “no soldier left behind”. It’s not just soldiers. It’s not just our military, but it’s Americans. It’s Americans and those that stand with America that we don’t leave behind. They say it’s not happening. They say people aren’t stranded. A friend of mine came home from Afghanistan about five weeks ago, a trauma surgeon. And he got a text from one of his patients who was shot in the leg and has trouble walking right now, who said he’s in hiding. He said he got a text from the Taliban that said, “We know who you are. We have all the government data. We’re hunting you down. Turn yourself in, because we’re hunting you down otherwise.”
Brad Windstrup: (05:29)
His response was, ” I’m dead either way.” I serve on the intelligence committee. We had our brief last night. I left that with far more questions than I had answers. At this time, we think it’s important. We have a tremendous wealth of knowledge and experience within our conference. And today you’re going to hear from many of our veterans that serve in Congress that served in Afghanistan, and touch on different points of what’s happening today and some of their feelings and emotions. And with that, I’d like to turn the microphone over to my friend and veteran, Jim Banks.
Jim Banks: (06:13)
Thank you, Dr. Windstrup, and thank you to the whip for all that you do for our veterans and our service members. I wore the uniform proudly in 2014 and ’15 when I deployed to Afghanistan, and I served on the front lines of the effort there to train, advise, and equip the Afghan army and the Afghan police. As a foreign military sales officer, my job was to help on the front end and the back end of acquiring American military equipment to turn it over to the Afghans and train them on how to use it. So you can imagine how shameful I find it that today, all of that equipment has fallen into the hands of the Taliban. Because of the negligence of this administration and the hasty retreat that they led out of Afghanistan, they have left $85 billion worth of American equipment in the hands of our enemy, the Taliban, 75,000 vehicles, over 200 airplanes and helicopters, over 600,000 small arms and light weapons. The Taliban now has more Black Hawk helicopters than 85% of the countries in the world, but it’s not just weapons. They have night vision goggles, body armor, and unbelievably, the Taliban now has biometric devices, which have the fingerprints, eye scans, and biographical information of all of the Afghans who helped us and were on our side over the last 20 years. There is no plan by this administration to get those weapons back. There is no plan to account for any of this equipment or these weapons. I can tell you that members of the Armed Services Committee on the Republican side will be fighting for amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act next week, when we mark up that important bill to do what the Biden administration has failed to do. Let me be very clear. If any American is harmed, injured, or killed and not safely evacuated out of Afghanistan, or if any of these weapons or this military equipment is used to harm, injure, or kill an American now, or at any time in the future, the blood is on Joe Biden’s hands. I’ll turn it over now to a fellow Afghanistan veteran and the newest member of Congress, representative Ellzey.
Jake Ellzey : (08:51)
Thank you. My name is Jake Ellzey. As you mentioned, I’m one of the newest members of Congress. Just took office a couple of weeks ago. I’m a 20 year Navy veteran and flew H60 helicopters, Tomcats, and Super Hornets in –
Jake Ellzey : (09:03)
And flew H-60 helicopters, Tomcats and Super Hornets in a 20-year Navy career. I deployed to Afghanistan in 2001 when we kicked the war off pulling off the USS enterprise. 2009 and ’10 as a squadron commander flying Super Hornets. And then it was again after I retired in 2013 as a contractor flying ISR missions out of Bodrum. It’s been suggested that just the fact that we have 200 helicopters and other aircraft that we’ve left behind that somehow the Taliban wouldn’t be capable of flying them. That’s nonsense. We have enemies and adversaries throughout the world such as China, Russia, and Iran who are more than capable of either buying those and flying them again or outright stealing them.
Jake Ellzey : (09:42)
Keep in mind that China and Russia have aircraft that look remarkably similar to our generation five F-22 and F-35 and there’s a good reason for that. Either they copied them or they stole them outright. And Iran I might add has been flying for the last 40 years the F-14 Tomcat, which we embargoed any parts on over 40 years ago. And there’s still 35 of them flying through Iran. So keep in mind that when we leave all this equipment behind the idea that the Taliban somehow can’t utilize those, it’s not true.
Jake Ellzey : (10:14)
Secondly, most of the folks behind me and myself are working very, very diligently for a crisis situation in order to get to backchannel extractions for our friends and allies and Americans in Afghanistan. This is not a streamlined effort on the part of the administration. And it should be noted that everybody behind me is working very, very late at night in order to help get out as many people as we can.
Jake Ellzey : (10:40)
And finally, I deployed to Bodrum in 2013 and 14 as an ISR pilot. And the idea that we only have one airfield left in the entire country of Afghanistan is more than a failure. It is an outright tragedy because we have no capacity for heavy lift. For all the equipment we left behind, the airport that is in Kabul is a one runway operation. And if you put one mortar shell in the middle of that runway, it’s no longer operative. Meanwhile, we gave up 28 miles to the north as the CROW flies, a military base called Bodrum, which has two runways, which has more than twice the capacity and heavy lift capability then that in the capital city.
Jake Ellzey : (11:26)
Additionally, it’s set out in the middle of nowhere and it’s easily protected from a force protection standpoint. If that doesn’t send shivers down your spine on who gave that kind of advice, it should. We cannot stand for this anymore and we’ve got less than 10% of our folks out, and we got one week to go. So I suggest to you that we need to find a better means to get this out. This is a tragedy that none of us want to be standing here talking about today.
Jake Ellzey : (11:51)
None of us want to be talking about what’s going on in Afghanistan, but we’ve got Americans we need to get out first. And for all the talk of everything else that’s going on, that’s our number one priority. And those assembled behind me have insisted that that is our number one priority from the standpoint of the people standing behind me is to get our Americans out. Thank you.
Speaker 1: (12:09)
That’s Brian Mast.
Brian Mast: (12:14)
Something really important that needs to be said. I want my friend Jim Baird to come up here in front for a minute next to me. This is important for all of our veterans. Vietnam wasn’t lost because of guys like Jim Baird and those that he walked through rice patties and jungles with. It was lost because of Pennsylvania Avenue. And Afghanistan is not lost because of those that hiked up over the mountains alongside so many of us standing here, it’s lost because of Pennsylvania Avenue. That is history repeating itself right there.
Brian Mast: (12:56)
I want to give a quick quote because it’s important to know exactly what we’re dealing with here in terms of this administration and their mindset. This is a quote, a direct quote from Joe Biden as it relates to foreign nationals. “The bill complicates the matter of evacuation first because it would also authorize evacuation of endangered foreign nationals. I do not believe the US has an obligation moral or otherwise. Does not have an obligation moral or otherwise to evacuate foreign nationals. The US has no obligation to evacuate one or 100,000 South Vietnamese.”
Brian Mast: (13:46)
That’s what Joe Biden said about foreign nationals at that time. And I think we see where his mindset is at on foreign nationals as we deal with this right now. There’s a lot to be said, I’m going to pass this to Representative Gonzales.
Tony Gonzales: (13:59)
Thank you, Whip, for putting this together. You know, this is what we should be focusing on. Americans need to come together, right? We shouldn’t be focusing on an arbitrary deadline. The deadline needs to be the United States doesn’t leave Afghanistan until all Americans come home. Afghanistan is roughly the size of Texas and there’s only one exit point right now in Kabul. That’s acceptable in any, any form or fashion. I served 20 years in the military, 20 years in the intelligence community. I served five years in Afghanistan. I flew intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance missions, right?
Tony Gonzales: (14:54)
We as an intelligence community, we have up our ability to collect intel at the most dangerous point in Afghanistan’s history, I’d argue right now is more dangerous to Americans than the first day that we went in 2001. Why? Because we have no intelligence. This administration has given up the high ground on intelligence when we are trying to extract Americans. It is absolutely unacceptable. We need to focus on one thing, getting our Americans home and getting our Afghan partners home in any form or fashion.
Tony Gonzales: (15:29)
Go any parts to Afghanistan, not some arbitrary deadline, not some one single outlet. Kabul is not going to be enough. We’re going to have to go other places. This administration has to be willing to go to wherever Americans stand in the most rural areas, in the most urban areas. Everything is at stake. During a time of crisis is an opportunity for America to come together, not to divide. And now is a time of crisis. Now we need to save Americans in Afghanistan. Waltz.
Mike Waltz: (16:07)
Congressman Mike Waltz from Florida. I served on the ground multiple tours as a Green Beret in Afghanistan. I want to show you a few things and tell you about some of the losses that we’ve occurred and what the Taliban mindset is. I have here what they call a night letter from the Taliban that I leave hanging on my office wall. This letter was sent not to American military, the Afghan military. It was sent to a school principal. Told him that if he didn’t get out of town, he would be beheaded within 24 hours. You know what his crime was? Teaching girls.
Mike Waltz: (16:47)
He stood his ground. They didn’t get him, but they got his brother, beheaded him, burnt the school to the ground, chased his family into hiding. I leave this up as a reminder of the evil that we’re dealing with and what we’re condemning these people to. We’ve talked about our interpreters and our allies. I had one, the guy was such a fighter we called him little Spartacus. Spartacus was on the waiting list for the SIV program.
Mike Waltz: (17:21)
He was found at a Taliban checkpoint with American documentation on him. You know what they did? They took him back to his village, beheaded his brothers and his cousins in front of them and then him to send a message. That’s what thousands of American citizens and let me use this word stranded in Afghanistan right now are facing. We are on the cusp of the biggest mass hostage crisis this country has ever seen. This will make 1979 and Tehran looked like a sleepover.
Mike Waltz: (18:02)
Iran looked like a sleepover. We cannot abandon Americans. We never leave a fallen comrade. And if Joe Biden doesn’t extend that deadline and tell the Taliban we are going to extend it or else, we’re going to leave Americans behind 11 days before the 20th anniversary of September 11th. Are you kidding me? Is that what’s really happening right down the street on Pennsylvania Avenue? We stood here bi-partisan in April. As soon as he made that announcement and said, “If you don’t start getting people out right now, you are giving them a death sentence.” If you pull our military assets out before you get Americans or allies out, you’re consigning them to death, like this school principal and his family.
Mike Waltz: (18:56)
Final thing. America is going to face Al Qaeda 3.0. The intelligence community has been clear and has briefed us repeatedly, the Taliban taking over means Al Qaeda 3.0 comes roaring back. Except now, we’re in a worse position than we were before 2001. We have no basis in the region. Our local allies are being hunted down as we speak. And as you’ve heard today, the Taliban or going to be armed to the teeth so that when future American soldiers have to go back in to deal with the problem and deal with the incompetence of this administration, how many are going to die now because they’re going to have to fight their way through our own equipment, our own damn equipment to deal with A Qaeda 3.0.
Mike Waltz: (19:46)
Are we going to have another Pulse Nightclub? Or are we going to have another San Bernandino? Are we going to have another 9/11 because of that incompetence? Well, this Congress is going to lead. Our offices right now, our operation centers, calling gate guards, calling the Kabul Airport, guiding people through, telling them how to avoid Taliban checkpoints, our own Congress. It’s unbelievable the lack of leadership. So I, 100% agree that blood is and will be on Joe Biden’s hands. And this Congress will hold him accountable. Thank you very much.
Speaker 2: (20:23)
I want to thank my colleagues who are doing just what Congressman Walz talked about. My office is doing it as well. There are many people up here who’ve gotten 100, 200, 300 people talk through the wire or across the border out of Afghanistan. So I give you guys a big shout out.
Speaker 2: (20:45)
Afghanistan is a beautiful country if you take the Taliban out of it. The people that I worked with when I was there are amazing. I served in one of our nations tier one units, doing some pretty amazing things while I was over there. I was there when Pat Tillman was killed. I’ll never forget for as long as I live that flag draped coffin, going through a court on of some of our nation’s most elite warriors, and there wasn’t a dry eye.
Speaker 2: (21:21)
I have other friends that are not with us. I see their children in my town because I serve the community of Fort Campbell. I have to look them in the eye when I’m back in my district. Let me say this to every Afghan veteran, your service was not in vain. Your service was not in vain. To those children, those gold star children and families, your sacrifice protected America from a terrorist attack for 20 years. What happens from now on is on Joe Biden. Just as my colleagues have said, the blood of Americans are now on his hands. The blood of our allies are now on his hands.
Speaker 2: (22:12)
My colleagues have said a lot of things. I won’t be redundant. One of the things, one of the points I want to make, I want to ask, is who’s advising this president. Because what the president is saying, we all know it’s inaccurate. He said the other day, no one advised him not to pull out. We know that’s blatantly false. Mark Milley has been saying, “Don’t pull out, add to the force.” So who is telling this guy it’s okay to pull out or is he being intentionally deceptive or does he really even know what’s going on? He said, “No, no. The Afghans don’t want to leave.” Remember, that in his press conference? The Afghans don’t want to leave. There are already 18,000 that had applied, 53,000 family members that had applied.
Speaker 2: (23:03)
He said, “The Afghans don’t want to fight.” Guys who serve with these guys, they’re warriors. Aren’t they? I mean, they want to fight, but when you walk away in the middle of the night in [inaudible 00:23:16] airfield and they show up and go, “Hey, where’d the Americans go?” You think they have a will to fight? Do you think they’re going to feel like they’re supported by us? This is the kind of war where they fade into the background in order to survive because not like me. When I left to go to Afghanistan, my family stayed home. Their family is in the country. They don’t want them beheaded. So when we abandoned them, they pulled back. They want to fight. It’s a lie to say they don’t. Who is advising this president or is he being intentionally deceptive? We need to know. Thank you.
Speaker 3: (23:59)
Ronnie Jackson, and then Jack Berman. Okay.
Ronnie Jackson: (24:02)
Thank you. Look, I made multiple trips to Afghanistan during my time on active duty. I walked around that hospital at [inaudible 00:24:10] and I saw the consequences of what was going on. I saw the sacrifice that took place. I saw people that would never come home to their families again because they died on foreign soil. I saw people that lost their arms, their legs, that paid an incredible price for what was going on over there. We’ve betrayed these people now. When I say we, I mean the Biden administration has betrayed these people. We’ve betrayed all that they worked so hard for. And I would tell you, I’ll speak as a doctor right now, doctor that serves on the armed services committee, a doctor that served in the war on Iraq and Afghanistan. And I’ll tell you right now that we need a commander in chief.
Ronnie Jackson: (24:42)
We do not have a commander in chief and we’ve not had one from the beginning here. I know I hear people say all the time, they’re like, there’ll be time for finger pointing later. We need to figure out what needs to happen next right now. And I agree with that, but you know what? We are at the very beginning of this crisis that Biden has created. He cannot handle it. He is not prepared for this. He is not cognitively fit to be our commander in chief right now. That’s being evidenced every single day, more and more. We need him and we need his team to resign. We need them to let somebody else step up to the plate and lead this operation. Somebody who has the wheel and the cognitive ability to make this happen and is competent in doing so. We need a commander in chief. Thank you.
Jack Berman: (25:26)
I stand amongst warriors behind me. And I know there are many of you listening today. You’ve heard where we are articulated much more eloquently than I could, but I would like my message today to be to all of the veterans and their families who are listening to this. All of you who have served. Those of you who served in World War II, you saved the world from fascism. Those of you who served in Korea and Vietnam slowed, stymied, and stunted the growth of communism in Southeast Asia.
Jack Berman: (26:01)
Those of you who served in desert shield, desert storm, eventually slowed and took out a ruthless dictator. And those of you who have served since 9/11 understand that number one, the mission is not over. We as a country and as a world, you could say we might’ve been asleep at the switch, or we had our priorities misplaced and the thread evolved around us. We had to respond after 9/11, and that’s why we went to Afghanistan. Good leadership understands that no matter how much you plan for a fight, no plan survives first contact on the battlefield, and then you make the adjustments necessary to win. And when you win, you also leave no one behind. Leadership shows, but leadership only shows when it’s put to the test. Well, folks-
Jack Berman: (27:03)
… Shows when it’s put to the test. Well, folks, we’re being put to the test right now, the world is watching. Our Afghan partners and their families are praying. We are praying, Mr. President, step up or step out. Thank you.
Speaker 4: (27:15)
Speaker 5: (27:15)
Steve Scalise: (27:19)
Well again, I want to thank all of my colleagues who honorably served and their message is our message; we stand with those people in Afghanistan, we stand with those Americans who were abandoned by this president behind enemy lines. The first priority has to be getting them back home, including members of the press who are still stranded behind enemy lines right now. I know some are reporting, some are in hiding. This should’ve never happened this way. With that, we’d be happy to take some questions.
Speaker 6: (27:48)
Can you respond to the Taliban saying this morning that they won’t allow Afghans to get to the airport?
Steve Scalise: (27:54)
President Biden needs to step up and tell anybody in the world that our top priority is protecting American lives. We’re not going to operate by the timeline of some terrorist dictatorship, we’re going to operate under the tenet of the United States, which is we will defend our people. He took an oath to uphold, and protect, and defend the people of the United States, including those that he left behind enemy lines, not based on some arbitrary timeline that he set before he realized the calamity he’s created. We need to have the top priority to tell the Taliban that we’re going to get all of our people out regardless of what timeline was initially set.
Speaker 7: (28:32)
Should US troops be allowed to use offensive force rather than [crosstalk 00:28:35]?
Steve Scalise: (28:35)
Every option should be on the table to protect American lives. That’s the oath he upheld, he took to uphold, it’s time President Biden step up and do that job.
Speaker 7: (28:43)
Last followup, even if it means American troops’ lives being at risk?
Steve Scalise: (28:46)
Every option ought to be on the table to protect American lives. He should’ve never pulled out without getting all Americans out first, he set this timeline. We hadn’t had a death in a year and a half, it wasn’t like the country was falling apart. But his own intelligence told him the country would fall apart if he withdrew, he initially told the press, he told the country that he didn’t have that intelligence, he absolutely had that intelligence, because we did too.
Speaker 7: (29:10)
[crosstalk 00:29:10] American lives [crosstalk 00:29:12].
Steve Scalise: (29:11)
I don’t want any American lives, but President Biden put American lives at risk when he withdrew artificially.
Speaker 8: (29:16)
Speaker 9: (29:16)
Brad Windstrup: (29:17)
American lives are at risk right now.
Speaker 8: (29:19)
Speaker 9: (29:20)
That’s what [crosstalk 00:29:20].
Brad Windstrup: (29:20)
Joe Biden, President Biden set the date of August 31st. That was supposed to be his deadline, it’s now their deadline. It’s totally turned the table, and the table was set for it to turn by the president and the actions that we have taken.
Speaker 10: (29:37)
As one who flew into [inaudible 00:29:39] at the height of the hostage crisis, some of us have been there before. Two questions, one, are you aware that there’s a view that this is not by accident, that this is a payment for China [inaudible 00:29:50] because of what’s happened to [inaudible 00:29:54] within Afghanistan, there’s been demonstrations [inaudible 00:30:01] have 20 years of freedom and they’re not going to tolerate it [inaudible 00:30:04] support [inaudible 00:30:06] civilians that are demonstrating against the Taliban [crosstalk 00:30:09].
Steve Scalise: (30:09)
Yeah, I won’t comment on rumors because there are a lot of rumors about what President Biden may or may not have committed to in advance with others over there. But what I do know is that we had control of the country working with the Afghan army, who were serving honorably, and if there was going to be a pullout of the country, we should have gotten every American out first, we should have worked to get all of our allies out who were helping save American men and women in uniform, and we should have gotten the military equipment out.
Steve Scalise: (30:38)
And again, the Bagram Air Force Base would have been one prime place to do that, there are others, and he abandoned all of that. So a lot of these questions need to be asked, and ultimately, they need to be answered with candor from President Biden, and we’ve yet to see that.
Speaker 11: (30:51)
Speaker 10: (30:51)
But also supporting the opposition.
Steve Scalise: (30:53)
I would encourage the Afghan people because, look, if you give people a taste of freedom, which we’ve done, they’re not going to give up that freedom. For many Afghans today, they only know freedom for over 20 years. And so to think that the Taliban are going to be able to come in and go back to the barbaric days of the past, I think they’re going to recognize there will be a rise and ultimately resistance to their form of government and tyranny.
Speaker 11: (31:24)
Steve Scalise: (31:25)
Speaker 12: (31:25)
What is responsibilities…
Steve Scalise: (31:25)
Wait, I’m sorry. We’ll get you two right after.
Speaker 13: (31:27)
On members, what exactly are members of Congress hearing from the administration? Are they confident that the administration has a plan in place to determine the number of individuals left in country? And then lastly, if there is an extension in place without knowing the total scope of people still left in country, what is your recommendation, how long could we extend it, and how do we determine the scope of [crosstalk 00:31:54]?
Steve Scalise: (31:54)
Well, the first thing that needs to happen is President Biden needs to come clean with the total number of Americans that they know are abandoned behind enemy lines. They have a lot of those numbers, they won’t share them with us, they won’t share them with the press. And I think part of it is they don’t want to be held accountable and responsible for what they did. But again, the president’s job, you go back to the 1950s, the buck stops here. President Biden said that actually about a week ago, and then he went off blaming everybody else. But ultimately it’s his decision, he’s got to own this, but he’s got to own up to the American people. How many Americans are over there? He knows the number, he just doesn’t want to share it with the American people. I thought he campaigned saying he’d be transparent, he’s not.
Steve Scalise: (32:36)
And he owes it to those families to let them know that he knows who their loved ones are and that he’s spending every day to get them out. He’s been spending the last two days on the telephone threatening Democrats to vote for tax increases. Why isn’t he working the phones to get every American out of Afghanistan? It’s an international disgrace. We’re not going to play that game, we’re working here hard to find out that answer.
Steve Scalise: (32:58)
In fact, Congressman Waltz has legislation to get an accounting of all Americans who were left behind enemy lines. I wish speaker Pelosi would bring that bill to the floor today instead of what she’s trying to bring to the floor, to tax American families here at home. It shows you their priorities are so out of touch with the American people, not only here in America, but the Americans who were left behind enemy lines that still to this day want to get home and can. Final question, we’ll go with you.
Speaker 12: (33:25)
What responsibilities do Republican leaders [inaudible 00:33:29] the way things have unfolded there over the last 20 years? You’ve talked a lot about Joe Bide, but what about the last 20 years [inaudible 00:33:35]?
Steve Scalise: (33:36)
Well, you could even look at last year, President Trump wanted to withdraw American troops, he was very vocal about it, but he also made it very clear with conditions he put in place that he was not going to let the Taliban take control of the country. So every time the Taliban would push, he would push back with overwhelming force, not with equal force, but with overwhelming force, and ultimately the Taliban pulled back, and he protected American lives every step of the way.
Steve Scalise: (34:02)
We’re not seeing this from this president. Three other presidents before Joe Biden have ultimately dealt with this conflict. It’s not been an easy one, but the main objective was, number one, to avenge September 11th, and to ensure that we didn’t have another terrorist attack on American soil. And you know what, for the last 20 years, thank God, we haven’t had an attack on American soil, but we’re all very concerned about that right now. Because not only do they have our weapons, the terrorists have a country, and we have an open Southern border and they know it, they know they have a pathway in, we’ve already identified people on the terrorist watch list coming across our Southern border. President Biden needs to get all Americans out, but President Biden also needs to get control of our Southern border to protect America from another terrorist attack. [inaudible 00:34:52].
Brad Windstrup: (34:52)
Go back to the very beginning-
Speaker 14: (34:54)
Brad Windstrup: (34:54)
… President Bush said to the world, “If you are a terrorist, we’re coming after you. If you house a terrorist, we are coming after you too.” That was the mission. That was the mission.
Steve Scalise: (35:09)
Thank you all.
Brad Windstrup: (35:09)
Speaker 15: (35:09)
Steve Scalise: (35:10)
Thank all of you.