WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Those critical of the decision to pull remaining U.S. troops out of Afghanistan by Aug. 31 say the consequences of leaving too early are deadly.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that in the past 24 hours, the State Department has been in contact with 500 Americans who are trying to get out of Afghanistan and authorities are trying to confirm the status of an additional 1,000.
Meanwhile, Democratic leaders and Pentagon officials are upset that Democratic Congressman Seth Moulton and Republican Congressman Peter Meijer took it upon themselves to visit Kabul in person.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed concern that the trip diverted resources from evacuation efforts and endangered the lawmakers.
“We’re trying to get people,” she said. “This is deadly serious — we do not want members to go.”
“We are obviously not encouraging VIP visits to a very tense, dangerous and dynamic situation,” said Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby.
Moulton praised the military efforts in tweets but said the trip made it clear to him that “we don’t get everyone out on time.”
Lawmakers from both parties have criticized the decision to end U.S. military evacuation efforts by Aug. 31. Texas Congressman Michael McCaul said even Afghan allies who already have special immigrant visas are being turned away from the airport.
“Sometimes more grimly they are returned to their homes where they behead their families and they behead them,” said McCaul.
The Pentagon said the U.S. military and allied countries are working as quickly as possibly. Reports indicated they’ve so far evacuated at least 88,000 people.
“Every 39 minutes yesterday a plan departed Kabul airport,” said Major Gen. Hank Taylor.
The Pentagon acknowledges that toward the end of the mission, space on aircraft will have to be reserved in order to get U.S. troops home by Aug. 31.