“I think it’s possible but I think it’s very unlikely given the number of Americans who still need to be evacuated, the number of SIVs, the number of others who are members of the Afghan press, civil society leaders, women leaders,” Schiff, the House Intelligence Committee chairman, told reporters outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington.
SIVs stands for Special Immigrant Visas.
Schiff described himself as “encouraged” to see the number of people being flown out by U.S. military planes and charter flights increasing as time goes on, but said “logistical difficulties” in getting people to the airport in Kabul make it difficult to get everybody out by Aug. 31.
“And I’m certainly of the view that we maintain a military presence as long as it’s necessary to get all U.S. persons out and to meet our moral and ethical obligations to our Afghan partners,” added the congressman, who took part in a closed-door briefing with intelligence officials on Afghanistan.
Approximately 5,800 U.S. troops are in Kabul helping evacuate Americans, Afghans, and others before fully withdrawing in the near future.
President Joe Biden imposed the Aug. 31 deadline in a summer speech, and the Taliban has said they now expect it to be adhered to. If it is not, a spokesman for the terrorist group said this week, there will be “consequences.”
U.S. officials have repeatedly declined to commit to extending the deadline if such an extension is required.
“We are taking this day by day. We believe we are making enormous progress,” national security adviser Jake Sullivan said at a press conference on Monday.
As of Aug. 23, a maximum of 4,000 Americans had been evacuated from Afghanistan, according to military officials. That means over 10,000 may still remain in the country.
And tens of thousands of Afghans seeking visas from America are also still there.
Some allies are pressing the United States to push back the deadline, as are other members of Congress.
“We absolutely must secure the airport in Kabul and keep our promises to evacuate Americans and our Afghan allies, even if that means extending the August 31st deadline to withdraw from Afghanistan,” Rep. Susan Wild (D-Pa.) said early Tuesday on Twitter.
“POTUS – extend the 8/31 deadline and get our people out. We can’t change the past, but we still have time to make this last part right,” Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Mich.) added.