While some prayed for the safety of American troops and diplomats in the immediate aftermath of the attack, other Republicans did not hesitate to blame Biden.
Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby confirmed that the explosions “resulted in a number of US and civilian casualties.” CNN reported earlier that US personnel were among the wounded.
Biden has noted that the US withdrawal was set in motion by former President Donald Trump’s deal with the Taliban, and vowed to not pass on a war entering its 20th year to a fifth US president.
But Republicans quickly expressed their outrage at the White House Thursday after the attack on Americans. House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy called on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to bring Congress back into session “so that we can be briefed thoroughly and comprehensively by the Biden Administration” and pass a bill to prohibit the withdrawal of any more troops “until every American is out of Afghanistan.”
Democratic leaders in Congress said they were monitoring the situation, advocated for securing the airport to help Americans and Afghan allies evacuate, and pushed back on the Republicans’ criticism.
“Right now, American heroes are risking & giving their lives to execute an extraordinarily dangerous evacuation, & the Minority Leader wants to defund the mission & tie the Commander in Chief’s hands in the middle of the most dangerous days of the operation,” tweeted Drew Hamill, Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff, referring to McCarthy. “What’s not going to help evacuate American citizens is more empty stunts & distraction from the Minority Leader who sat idly by as Pres. Trump proudly negotiated with the Taliban.”
Many in the GOP — and some Democrats — renewed their calls to postpone the August 31 evacuation date. Idaho Sen. Jim Risch, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Affairs committee, said the “Taliban and its terrorist contemporaries clearly don’t care about our deadlines or our people left in the country. They have what they want, which is an America and a NATO in disarray and retreat.”
South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham said this should prompt US military to retake Bagram Air Base north of Kabul and run evacuation flights from there.
“I urge the Biden Administration to reestablish our presence in Bagram as an alternative to the Kabul airport so that we do not leave our fellow citizens and thousands of Afghan allies behind. It is not a capability problem, but a problem of will,” Graham tweeted.
CNN’s Kristin Wilson, Kevin Liptak and Annie Grayer contributed to this report.