WASHINGTON — Iowa Republicans in Congress have laid the blame for an attack at the Kabul airport in Afghanistan that killed 13 U.S. troops squarely on President Joe Biden.

Mariannette Miller-Meeks, the Ottumwa Republican representing Iowa's second district in the U.S. House, said Biden's exit strategy from Afghanistan has been a failure.

"This administration has mishandled the withdrawal since the beginning," Miller-Meeks said in a statement Thursday. She added that she and a group of other members of Congress had pushed for Biden to begin evacuating soldiers, citizens and Afghan partners earlier. "We were stoned walled. This withdrawal has been an operational and possible intelligence failure at every step."

Miller-Meeks supports ending the Afghanistan war, but has been critical of Biden's handling of the withdrawal. She said earlier this month that America was leaving its allies behind, which would have consequences on the country's future efforts to collect intelligence and conduct counter-terrorism activities.

Earlier this week, Miller-Meeks said on the floor of the U.S. House that the Biden Administration needed to accept blame for the chaotic withdrawal. Miller-Meeks is a U.S. Army veteran from the Vietnam era and the daughter of a U.S. Air Force Master Sergeant.

Iowa's junior Republican Senator said Thursday that President Joe Biden has made the country appear as a weak and unreliable partner, and the situation for him is at a crossroads.

In a statement, Ernst said, "President Biden has a choice: quit and leave innocent Americans and those who have willingly fought alongside us for 20 years to suffer in Afghanistan; or, fulfill his obligation and engage the might of the greatest military in the history of the world to bring Americans and our allies and partners to safety and project America’s strength on the global stage."

Ernst blamed the bloodshed and recent troubles the U.S. and allies have experienced in evacuating citizens and others from the country ahead of an Aug. 31 deadline squarely on Biden.

Ernst is the first female combat veteran to serve in the U.S. Senate and is a veteran of the Global War on Terror and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

"The chaos, and now catastrophic bloodshed, that has ensued in Afghanistan over the last few weeks was brought on by the president’s haphazard and hasty withdrawal of U.S. forces," Ernst said.

She said Biden's handling of the troop withdrawal from Afghanistan has painted America as an unreliable partner, undermined national security, and made the country appear weak on the world stage.

Sen. Chuck Grassley echoed the Iowa Republican consensus of blaming Biden. He called for an investigation after the withdrawal has completed.

"These tragic deaths; this perilous moment did not need to occur," Grassley said. "Right now, our country's focus should remain squarely on getting every single American and ally out of harm's way. Politics can wait. But the day will come when questions about this disorganized and disastrous exit will have to be answered."

Gov. Kim Reynolds released a statement expressing grief for those killed in action and their families and loved ones. "Kevin and I send our prayers to their family and to those injured, as well as those brave men and women still standing guard outside the airport," she said. "We cannot thank the brave men and women of our Armed Forces enough for what they do to preserve this incredible nation."

Kyle Ocker is the editor of the Ottumwa Courier and the Oskaloosa Herald. He can be reached at kocker@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kyle_Ocker.

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Kyle Ocker is a Centerville native and award-winning multimedia journalist. Kyle is currently the president of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council and vice president of the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association.

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