U.S. lawmakers urged President Joe Biden to move swiftly to get U.S. citizens and allies out of Afghanistan and share his plan for how he will keep the American people safe.
Putting aside partisanship, lawmakers from both parties are calling on Biden to do whatever it takes to get U.S. citizens and allies out of Afghanistan.
Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, a defense appropriator in the U.S. House of Representatives, said it will be difficult, but the United States must help U.S. citizens and allies escape Afghanistan.
“Now, the immediate safety and security of all U.S. personnel on the ground in Afghanistan must be our number one priority and I support recent decisions by the President to deploy additional forces to Kabul to facilitate the safe departure of our teammates, including our allies and partners.”
“We must do everything in our power to protect those Afghans who are vulnerable under any Taliban regime—most importantly women and children—and we must continue to expeditiously relocate those who have assisted U.S. efforts,” he added.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said that in addition to an update, she wants to know the president’s plan to keep America safe.
“My message to President Biden is this: When you address the nation today, we need to hear not only an update on the situation, but your plan to keep Americans safe, both at home and abroad,” Murkowski said.
“Three previous American presidents have borne the burden of commanding this war. This is undoubtedly not an easy task, but it is an incredible responsibility endowed to the President of the United States and the leader of the free world,” Murkowski added.
As of Sunday evening, the U.S. Embassy in Kabul was totally evacuated, said State Department spokesman Ned Price, who confirmed that they were relocated to the Kabul airport. The airport’s perimeter, he added, was secured by American troops who were deployed in recent days.
“We can confirm that the safe evacuation of all Embassy personnel is now complete,” Price said in a statement Monday. “All Embassy personnel are located on the premises of Hamid Karzai International Airport, whose perimeter is secured by the U.S. Military.”
On Monday morning, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan confirmed there were numerous Americans still inside Afghanistan.
The former Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman and Ranking Member of the Budget Committee Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Biden needs to change his Afghanistan strategy and begin by getting citizens and allies out safely.
“I’ve been on the phone to military leaders who I’ve known for the last 20 years. They say it’s possible to establish safe passage corridors in Afghanistan to get our people out. And they say if we don’t do that, we’ll have a hard time getting partners in the future. It will be a stain on our honor,” said Graham, speaking at a press conference on Monday from his home state.
“So there is a possibility here, with an adjustment for president Biden to save tens of thousands of people who helped us. Number one. Number two, we need to declare the Taliban as a pariah terrorist organization. We need to establish the fact that America views the Taliban as a group of terrorists, not legitimate leaders,” added Graham.
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) released a statement on the situation in Afghanistan and echoed the concern for innocent lives.
“Nothing is more important than extracting the innocent individuals who remain in harm’s way, and I call on President Biden to use every tool at his disposal to ensure that happens,” said Cleaver.
Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, said the United States owes it to service members to save innocent people stranded in Afghanistan.
“Our nation owes it to them [servicemen and women] to ensure that the Taliban does not revert Afghanistan into a terrorist haven, and we owe it to our allies on the ground to keep working until all our translators, interpreters, Afghan army allies, and their families have been made safe,” said Courtney.
The Afghan Civil Aviation Authority announced Monday that all civilian flights in and out of the Kabul airport were suspended, urging citizens not to travel there.
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.