Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07) released a statement Thursday morning urging President Joe Biden to extend the Aug. 31 deadline for the complete removal of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The statement from Spanberger, a former CIA agent, was co-authored by Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH-16) and endorsed by 75% of the Problem Solvers Caucus, a bipartisan group in Congress comprised of 58 members – equally divided between Democrats and Republicans.
“As Democrats and Republicans, we stand united in our commitment to protecting U.S. citizens, diplomats, intelligence officers, and our foreign partners who are currently attempting to flee Afghanistan. In this time of tremendous danger, politics must be put aside to advance our common goals,” Spanberger and Gonzalez wrote in the statement. “From this week’s bipartisan Member briefing, it is apparent that the Administration’s set date for departure from Afghanistan on August 31st does not provide enough time to evacuate all American citizens and our partners. We respectfully call on the Administration to reconsider its timeline and provide a clear plan to Congress that will result in the completion of our shared national objectives.”
The statement was released early Thursday morning, prior to the terrorist attack that took place outside of the airport in Kabul, killing 13 U.S. service members and wounding 18 more. An ISIS affiliate has claimed credit for the attack.
“In this moment, I am praying for our troops, diplomats, and public servants on the ground who have been carrying out their complex mission under extremely dangerous circumstances,” Spanberger said in a statement after the attacks in Kabul. “Our men and women serving in harm’s way represent the best of America.”
The president held a press conference Thursday afternoon and vowed revenge for the attack. “For those that carried out this attack as well as anyone who wishes America harm, know this: We will not forgive. We will not forget,” Biden said Thursday. “We will hunt you down and make you pay. I will defend our interests and our people with every measure at my command.”
Biden indicated during the press conference that he will be sticking to the Aug. 31 deadline for a full withdrawal from Afghanistan. “We can and we must complete this mission,” he said. “We will not be deterred by terrorists. We will not let them stop our mission. We will continue the evacuation.”
Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA-02)is a Navy veteran and has also expressed concern over the Aug. 31 deadline. She stressed the importance of getting resources into the Kabul airport to continue the mission. “I am heartbroken for the loss of brave Marines in a senseless act of terrorist violence,” Luria said in a statement Thursday afternoon. “We must provide all available resources to our commanders on the ground to restore order at Hamid Karzai Intl. Airport and continue evacuations without delay to ensure no further loss of life.”
Neither Spanberger nor Luria have commented specifically on the deadline since the terrorist attack took place Thursday morning.
The Taliban swept across Afghanistan retaking control in a short time and captured the Capital city of Kabul weeks earlier than expected. This made the safe evacuation of U.S. citizens and allies from Afghanistan much more complicated, leading to security concerns and providing the opportunity for the attack that happened today, even with repeated warnings from intelligent agencies across the world.
Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA-01) criticized the president’s handling of the situation in Kabul. “Today’s bombing in Afghanistan took the lives of 12 servicemembers. This attack leaves parents without children, children without a parent, and spouses without a loved one. President Biden’s absence in the face of this tragedy is a disgrace,” he tweeted. “My colleagues on [House Armed Services Committee] and I repeatedly demanded President Biden show us his plan to withdraw. Each time, he refused. The closest thing to a plan he has shared with us or the American People has been to ‘knock on wood.’ Those we lost today deserved better.”
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