DEMOCRATS urge Biden to keep troops in Afghanistan past the August 31 because it will be virtually impossible to get everyone out in seven days and tell president ‘these are our people’
- Several House Democrats, including military veterans, called on President Biden to extend the August 31 deadline for American troop withdraw in Afghanistan
- Democratic Rep. Jason Crow of Colorado, a former Army Ranger who served two tours in Afghanistan, said troops need to stay on the ground longer
- ‘The bottom line is, these are our people. These are our citizens. These are our Afghan partners,’ Crow said
- Democratic Rep. Mikie Sherrill, a former Navy pilot, and Democratic Rep. Andy Kim also called for the August 31 deadline to be extended
- Biden now faces criticism from his own party, Republicans, and the international community about the deadline
Several House Democrats, including military veterans, called on President Joe Biden on Tuesday to extend the August 31 deadline for American troop withdraw in Afghanistan.
Their concern comes as Biden told G7 leaders on Tuesday that he was holding firm to the date despite pressure from world leaders to keep boots on the ground to avoid a humanitarian crisis as thousands seek to flee Kabul.
But Democrats echoed the concerns of several European leaders, who worry there is not enough time to evacuate all the Afghanis who aided the United States in its battle against al Qaeda.
Biden now faces criticism from his own party, Republicans, and the international community about the deadline. Questions have been raised about why the evacuation wasn’t started sooner. The president, in remarks on Tuesday, blamed his predecessor Donald Trump for destroying the refugee process, saying his administration had to rebuild it.
The White House is working to quell the storm even as the criticism grows.
House lawmakers received a briefing from Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on Tuesday in the basement of the Capitol, where several Democrats emerged unconvinced.
They called for an extension of the August 31st deadline even as the administration made it clear they were holding firm.
Democratic Rep. Jason Crow of Colorado, a former Army Ranger who served two tours in Afghanistan, said troops need to stay on the ground longer.
‘The deadline is when the mission is accomplished, and we bring our people home,’ he said.
Several House Democrats, including military veteran Rep. Jason Crow (above), called on President Biden to extend the August 31 deadline for American troop withdraw in Afghanistan
Democratic Rep. Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey, a former Navy pilot, and Democratic Rep. Andy Kim of New Jersey also called for the August 31 deadline to be extended
If Biden holds firm to the August 31 date, that gives the administration just seven days to evacuate thousands of American citizens and local allies still stranded on the ground.
The U.S. ramped up the airlift by evacuating 21,600 people in the past 24 hours, but they still don’t know the exact number that still need to be flown out – and now time is rapidly running out.
‘It is not possible for us to evacuate all American citizens and our Afghan partners and their families by the end of the month,’ Crow said. ‘The deadline must be extended.’
‘The bottom line is, these are our people. These are our citizens. These are our Afghan partners,’ he noted of those waiting to evacuate.
Democratic Rep. Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey, a former Navy helicopter pilot, also pushed back against August 31 deadline.
‘I think it is critically important to ensure our military has the tools it needs to complete the mission. I do not believe that this can be accomplished by the 31st,’ she said, noting she told that to Austin and Blinken during the briefing.
Democratic Rep. Andy Kim of New Jersey also pushed for the deadline to be extended, saying even if all Americans are evacuated there still needs to be humanitarian help for Afghans who aided the U.S. military.
‘I, for one, would have them reconsider just for our Afghan partners,’ he said.
Biden defended his actions in a speech at the White House on Tuesday afternoon, arguing the evacuations would be completed by August 31st so no extension was necessary.
‘We are currently on a pace to finish by August the 31st. The sooner we can finish the better. Each day of operations brings added risk to our troops, but the completion by August 31st depend upon the Taliban continuing to cooperate and allow access to the airport for those we’re transporting out, and no disruptions to our operations,’ he said.
‘In addition, I’ve asked the Pentagon and the state department for contingency plans to adjust the timetable should that become necessary. I’m determined to ensure that we complete our mission, this mission,’ he added.
He blamed delays on his predecessor, Donald Trump.
‘We must all work together to resettle thousands of Afghans who ultimately qualify for refugee status. The United States will do our part and we are already working closely with to build the system destroyed by my predecessor,’ he noted.
And White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki defended the administration’s decision to stick to the deadline. She said the president told allies the evacuation was ‘on pace’ to end on August 31.
She argued any delay increased the risks to troops.
‘He also made clear that with each day of operations on the ground, we have added risk to our troops with increasing threats from ISIS-K, and that completion of the mission by August 31 depends on continued coordination with the Taliban, including continued access for evacuees to the airport,’ she said.
Republicans have been piling on Biden for holding fast to his August 31 date, arguing it’s too soon.
‘We have been given every indication that evacuation efforts cannot be concluded by August 31,’ Republican Sen. Mitt Romney said in a statement Tuesday. ‘Americans are still stranded in the provinces outside of Kabul and it’s unacceptable that there is still no plan to get these individuals to safety.’
Concerns from Democrats come after Rep. Adam Schiff, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said Biden is ‘unlikely’ to meet his August 31 deadline to evacuate U.S. citizens and their allies.
Schiff said on Monday a full evacuation was ‘possible’ but ‘very unlikely given the number of Americans who still need to be evacuated, the number of SIV’s, the number of others who are members of the Afghan press, civil society leaders, women leaders.’
‘Given the logistical difficulties of moving people to the airport and the limited number of workarounds, it’s hard for me to see that being fully complete by the end of the month. And I’m certainly of the view that we maintain a military presence as long as it’s necessary to get all U.S. persons out and to meet our moral and ethical obligation to our Afghan partners.’
He added: ‘Given the number of Americans who still need to be evacuated, the number of SIVs, the number of others who are members of the Afghan press, civil society leaders women leaders, it’s hard for me to imagine all of that can be accomplished between now and the end of the month,’ he said.
A Marine fist bumps a child waiting evacuation at the Kabul airport
Biden delivered a snub to his international allies on Tuesday, dismissing the desperate pleas of G7 leaders to extend the Kabul evacuation beyond August 31, after the Taliban issued a chilling warning to western forces who stay and banned Afghans from leaving.
The Taliban refused to extend the deadline and told Afghan citizens not to travel to the airport.
‘The road to Kabul airport is closed for locals and open to foreigners,’ Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said.
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