World leaders, Republicans press Biden on extending Kabul evacuation deadline
WASHINGTON - There are dire predictions of grave trouble ahead in Afghanistan from Republican critics of President Joe Biden.
"The biggest mass hostage situation in American history! It’s going to make 1979 in Tehran look like a sleepover," said Republican Florida Rep. Michael Waltz.
It is likely that thousands eligible for evacuation out of the troubled country will still be there after next Tuesday — the current deadline for ending the mass airlift underway.
President Biden was briefed Wednesday morning on what would be involved in extending the evacuation deadline past next Tuesday, but a Pentagon spokesman says it is adding urgency to the airlift.
"We know there are a lot of desperate people who want to leave, and that's why we are working as fast as we can. And you saw the numbers that we continue to be able to get out. We're working as fast as we can to get out American citizens, special immigrant visa applicants and vulnerable Afghans," said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.
American allies, including the Prime Minister of Canada, have pressed President Biden to continue the airlift from Kabul Airport beyond next week's deadline, arguing that to leave behind Afghans and others who worked for the coalition that overthrew the Taliban 20 years ago is an immoral betrayal.
"There’s nothing special about next Tuesday. We need to have a mission focused on getting everybody out, and when everybody is out, then the mission is complete," said Republican Alabama Rep. Mike Rogers.
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken offered some insight on Wednesday.
"There is no deadline on our work to help any remaining American citizens who decide they want to leave to do so, along with the many Afghans who have stood by us over these many years and want to leave and have been unable to do so," Blinken said.
Two military veterans who are now members of Congress made an unannounced visit to the Kabul Airport and for that, earned harsh criticism from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and some members of the military who say the trip was a distraction. The congressmen say they will deliver a report on what they saw.