Vt. officials reflect on fall of Afghanistan, Biden’s response

Published: Aug. 17, 2021 at 6:20 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont’s congressional delegation and the governor on Tuesday responded to the sudden fall of Afghanistan over the weekend and President Biden’s response to the chaos.

“It’s horrific what we’re seeing, as those who are desperate to get out of the country, and maybe for good reason,” said Governor Phil Scott, R-Vermont, during his weekly press briefing.

Like Americans all over the country, Vermont leaders are struggling with the images of the Taliban retaking the capital after a rapid campaign the past few weeks.

“Think people knew it would be chaotic. I think it was shocking, it was as chaotic as it was,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont,

The governor said he agreed with the decision to bring troops home but not the president’s execution of the departure. “It’s always the how, though -- how to end it. I have a difference of opinion on the how. I think we’re seeing this at real-time at this point,” Scott said.

Sen. Leahy says he’s confident that the result of the withdrawal would have been the same no matter when it occurred. “I think the only way it could have been different after 20 years is if the Afghan government stood up for their own people,” he said, echoing the president’s comments Monday.

Congressman Peter Welch, D-Vermont, says the decision was long overdue. He says he’s concerned about the safety of the ongoing evacuation and wants to know how Vermont can help. “The execution has been a catastrophe. We have an obligation to do everything we possibly can to safely evacuate the people who helped us,” he said.

Leahy says Vermont is prepared to take refugees if need be. “How is Vermont prepared to do that? We have the best refugee programs in the country for our state and size and I will get federal money and do it by need,” he said.

Leahy was among a bipartisan group of 45 senators that sent a letter this week urging the Biden administration to protect Afghan women leaders.

Senator Bernie Sanders was not available for an interview Tuesday.

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Vt. National Guard commander reflects on Afghanistan collapse

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