The House Problem Solvers Caucus has voted to officially call on President Joe Biden to extend the August 31 withdrawal date from Afghanistan as the administration scrambles to evacuate Americans stranded in Taliban-controlled Kabul.
“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,” the statement endorsed by the caucus read. “In this time of tremendous danger, politics must be put aside to advance our common goals. 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 Problem Solvers Caucus, which began in 2017, is an independent group of representatives equally divided between Democrats and Republicans aimed at finding common ground on important political issues.
At least 75% of the caucus members supported the vote to publicly urge Biden to extend the Afghanistan withdrawal date.
Biden has faced criticism from both sides of the aisle over his commitment to an August 31 deadline for withdrawing American troops from the Kabul airport where thousands of Americans and allies are currently attempting to make their way to as the Taliban continues to put up roadblocks and attack those trying to escape.
Defense Dept. Press Secretary John Kirby said Tuesday that the White House is still “aiming toward the end of the month” for a complete withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan.
The Pentagon also said the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan will go to “zero” at the Aug. 31 deadline.
Democratic Rep. Jason Crow from Colorado broke with President Biden on the Aug. 31 Afghanistan troop withdrawal deadline, noting that conditions “have changed.”
While speaking during the House Democratic Caucus’ Tuesday news conference, Crow said the deadline to get Americans and Afghan allies out of Afghanistan needs to be “extended.”
Crow also said America has a “moral obligation” to get American citizens home.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy agreed that the deadline should be extended and said there is “no way” Biden will be able to retrieve all Americans and allies from the country by August 31.
On Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken estimated that there were roughly 1,500 Americans left in the country, 1,000 of which the government has not been able to contact.
According to Blinken, 82,300 people have been flown out of Kabul since August 14.
“It’s hard to overstate the complexity and the danger of this effort,” Blinken said. “We are operating in a hostile environment in a city and country now controlled by the Taliban with the very real possibility of an ISIS-K attack. We’re taking every precaution, but this is very high risk.”
Blinken added that the United States continues to be “relentless in our outreach.”
Houston Keane, Greg Norman, and Lucas Y. Tomlinson contributed to this report