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McCarthy orders Capitol flag at half-staff to honor 13 service members killed in Afghanistan exit

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) announced Saturday that he ordered the flags at the U.S. Capitol to be put at half-staff in honor of 13 American service members who died in Afghanistan during attempting to help allies flee the country during the U.S.’s exit two years ago.

“Two years ago today, we tragically lost 13 brave servicemen and women in Afghanistan,” McCarthy’s post on X, formerly known as Twitter, read. “I have directed the flags at the U.S. Capitol to be lowered to half-staff in honor of these American heroes.”

Other Republican lawmakers also noted the anniversary of the attack in the own social media posts Saturday.

“Today marks two years since we lost 13 brave U.S. servicemembers in a heinous attack at the Kabul airport during Pres. Biden’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan,” Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) said in a post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “These heroes and their loved ones have our deepest gratitude and we are forever grateful for their sacrifice.”

“Today, we mark the second anniversary of the day 13 servicemembers lost their lives during the Abbey Gate suicide bombing in Afghanistan,” Rep. Mark Green (R-Tenn.) said in another X post. “The fact that this was a preventable tragedy makes this day all the more difficult.”

Republicans have criticized the way the Biden administration handled the U.S.’s withdrawal after 20 years from Afghanistan in 2021. On the heels of the attack that killed the 13 service members, McCarthy said that “there will be a day of reckoning” for Biden, but didn’t join fellow Republicans in calling for Biden to be impeached.

“Look, I’m extremely frustrated with the president. As I said, if you want to be president of the free world, you have to have the trust, faith and confidence of the American public. President Biden lost that yesterday,” McCarthy told reporters during a news conference in the Capitol building at the time.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin released a statement on the two-year anniversary of the attack Saturday. He called the attack “horrific” and commended the service members’ “skill, compassion and extraordinary courage.”

“As we mark this painful milestone, my heart is with the families of these 13 American heroes. Today, the entire Department of Defense stands in sorrow with them—along with all of the families whose loved ones gave their lives during our 20 years in Afghanistan,” Austin’s statement read. “We will never forget what they gave to serve this country that we love.”

Rep. Cory Mills (R-Fla.) introduced a resolution Wednesday to impeach Austin after the U.S. withdrawal for “high crimes and misdemeanors,” claiming the exit lacked planning despite having eight months to prepare.

“High-level officials in this administration blatantly ignored intel that Americans and our allied partners in Kabul would be left behind in harm’s way unless the U.S. corrected course in our withdrawal,” Mills said in a statement.

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