WASHINGTON — One more week – that’s how long the U.S. has to get American citizens and Afghan allies out of Afghanistan before withdrawing troops.
The Biden administration announced Tuesday that it’s sticking to Pres. Joe Biden’s Aug. 31 deadline despite calls from critics who say more time is needed for evacuations.
“There’s been no change to the timeline of the mission which is to have this completed by the end of the month,” said Pentagon Press Secretary Jon Kirby.
Republicans and some Democrats in Congress have expressed concerns about whether getting everyone out who needs to get out by the end of the month is even possible.
“There’s no way we can humanly get all of our American citizens and Afghan partners out of the country by that time,” said Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas).
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the President is preparing in case the timeline needs to be extended later on.
“The President has asked the Pentagon and the State Department for contingency plans to adjust the timeline should that become necessary,” said Psaki in a statement.
Republicans in Congress who served in the military have called the Biden administration’s execution of the withdrawal hasty and negligent.
“If any American is harmed, injured or killed and not safely evacuated out of Afghanistan, or if any of these weapons or this military equipment is used to harm, injure or kill an American now or at any time in the future, the blood is on Joe Biden’s hands,” said Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.)
Concerns about the timeline have been coming from Democrats, too.
“I think it’s possible but it’s very unlikely given the number of Americans who still need to be evacuated, the number of SIVs (Special Immigrant Visas), the number of other members of Afghan press, civil society leaders, women leaders. It’s hard for me to imagine all that can be accomplished between now and the end of the month,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, on Monday.
“The August 31 deadline must be pushed back,” said Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) in a tweet on Monday. “That, too, entails risk since I understand it was negotiated with the Taliban. But these are the tough choices confronting us.”
The situation in Afghanistan remains dire for Americans and Afghan allies trying to leave.
“Several thousand Americans have been safely evacuated from Afghanistan,” said Kirby.
The Taliban took control of Kabul more than a week ago and has threatened that there would be consequences if the U.S. stayed longer than Aug. 31.
The White House has not provided an exact number of how many Americans are still in Afghanistan.
“Many people have asked, reasonably, why we cannot provide a precise number of American citizens still in-country. Let me explain,” said National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Monday. “When Americans have come to Afghanistan over the years, we asked them to register with the embassy. Many have left without de-registering; others never register at all. That is their right, of course and it’s our responsibility to find them, which we are now doing hour by hour.”
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