Harris makes rare recess appearance to help pass Afghanistan evacuee bill

“They’ve been uprooted. They were living in Afghanistan. So [it’s] to take care of their necessities on a short-term basis — it might be housing, sustenance, food, transportation, those kind of things, on a short-term basis,” Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), who led the unanimous passage of the bill on the Senate floor, told reporters.

It’s extremely rare for the vice president to preside over a pro forma session of the Senate. Cardin said he was scheduled to preside over Tuesday’s pro forma session of the Senate, a twice-weekly procedural event that prevents presidents from making recess appointments. But another senator needed to be present to ask for unanimous passage of the repatriation bill, and, according to Cardin, “we couldn’t find another senator, so [Harris] volunteered.”

“They needed two senators on the floor, and I’m not sure there was another senator close by, so she said she would take care of it,” Cardin added.

Harris did not answer questions from reporters as she left the Capitol on Tuesday. Biden and his national security team have come under withering criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike who say they mismanaged the withdrawal of U.S. troops and failed to adequately prepare for a rapid Taliban takeover of the country.