Much of the Democratic criticism regarding Biden’s handling of the withdrawal has focused on his decision to maintain an Aug. 31 deadline for evacuations despite the administration’s acknowledgments that some Americans would be left behind. The public reproaches have added to the political pressure on Biden, who has faced scathing attacks from Republicans during the crisis.
Some of the most pointed criticism came from Rep. Susan Wild, D-Pa. Last week, the House Foreign Affairs Committee said the evacuation “has been egregiously mishandled” after suicide bombings that killed 13 U.S. service members.
“In order to move forward, our country will need to receive answers and accountability regarding the cascading failures that led us to this catastrophic moment, and I look forward to using my platform on the House Foreign Affairs Committee to secure answers from the Biden Administration about what went wrong,” Wild said in a statement. “Our troops deserve nothing less than a complete and unvarnished account of the truth.”
Biden and top administration officials opposed extending the withdrawal deadline, citing progress in evacuation efforts and the potential deadly threat to U.S. troops. Secretary of State Tony Blinken pledged Tuesday that officials would provide ongoing support to Americans left in Afghanistan who wished to leave in the future.
But some Democratic lawmakers vocally questioned the administration’s stance.
“I continue to urge the administration to do everything in its power to secure the airport and evacuate every American, as well as our partners who stood side-by-side with our troops to combat terrorism,” Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., said in a statement last week. “We must complete this mission, regardless of any arbitrary deadlines.”
Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, a former CIA officer, co-drafted a statement from the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus last week that called on Biden to delay the deadline.
“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,” the Problem Solvers Caucus said in a statement on Aug. 26. “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.”
Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, accused the Biden administration earlier this month of implementing a “flawed plan” that “clearly did not accurately assess the implications of a rapid U.S. withdrawal.”
He also issued a statement that appeared to criticize the Biden administration’s decision to collaborate with the Taliban on evacuation operations prior to the withdrawal.
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, once floated as a potential Biden running mate, tweeted last week that she supported delaying the withdrawal.
“Bringing the thousands of Americans and allies in Afghanistan to safety must remain our top priority, and pushing the evacuation deadline is a necessary and important step,” she wrote.
Biden is expected to address the nation Tuesday regarding the Afghanistan withdrawal.