John Cornyn, other Texas GOP officials lambaste Biden over Afghanistan withdrawal deadline

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, visited College Station on Oct. 28, 2020, as part of his statewide bus tour. Cornyn was also joined by Rick Perry and Pete Sessions at this campaign stop.

Sign up for The Brief, our daily newsletter that keeps readers up to speed on the most essential Texas news.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn lambasted President Joe Biden on Tuesday for his decision to stick to the administration's Aug. 31 deadline to withdraw all U.S. troops, citizens and allies from Afghanistan after 20 years in the country.

Cornyn accused the Biden administration of letting the Taliban dictate military strategy. "We have a commitment to every American and Afghan ally to get them out safely," he said in a statement. "No one should be left behind because of an arbitrary, self-imposed deadline based on a campaign promise."

The remarks by the Republican senior senator came after other members of the Texas GOP expressed doubts that the president can follow through on his promise to evacuate all American troops, citizens and allies safely by the end of the month.

U.S. Rep. August Pfluger, a San Angelo Republican, on Tuesday condemned the President’s decision not to extend the deadline.

“President Biden’s decision to commit to the Taliban’s dictated August 31st Afghanistan withdrawal deadline means he is signing the death warrants of countless Americans and allies who will be left behind,” he said in a statement. “It is utterly unacceptable that the commander and chief of the greatest military force in the world is allowing the Taliban, a group of terrorist thugs, to order the evacuation of our own citizens.”

On Monday, a Taliban spokesperson said the U.S. “must adhere to removing troops from Afghanistan” by Aug. 31, “otherwise, it will be a clear violation.”

U.S. Rep. Jake Ellzey, a Republican from Waxahachie, echoed the GOP concerns in a Tuesday press conference.

“No one can put a date on the accomplishment or successful completion of a military mission,” he said. ”There’s no arbitrary date. The mission is complete when the mission is complete.”

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, a Democrat from San Antonio, expressed his support for the administration Tuesday but emphasized the importance of the evacuation mission.

“I think the question for us is have we delivered on the promise of helping United States citizens, people who work at the Embassy and also our Afghan partners who were so helpful for us who literally helped save the lives of our military members during that operation,” he said.

In spite of the critique from members of Congress, the Biden administration has expressed confidence in its ability to remove Americans out of Afghanistan by the end of August.

The White House released a statement on Tuesday on Biden’s meeting with G7 leaders that said the administration is on track to meet the withdrawal deadline. “The President has asked the Pentagon and the State Department for contingency plans to adjust the timeline should that become necessary,” it said in the statement.

“We are moving each day thousands of people out of Afghanistan into safety in what is one of the biggest airlifts in world history,” a senior administration official stated on a call with reporters on Tuesday.

The senior administration official also noted the potential for thousands of refugees to be relocated to Fort Bliss military base in El Paso but emphasized that the situation is continuously developing.

“Across the four installations, Bliss, Dix, Lee and McCoy. The projection by the defense department is that there can be accommodations for approximately 25,000 [refugees],” the official said.

U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, an El Paso Democrat, tweeted Monday that over 650 Afghans have already arrived at Fort Bliss as a part of the ongoing evacuation.

Join us Sept. 20-25 at the 2021 Texas Tribune Festival. Tickets are on sale now for this multi-day celebration of big, bold ideas about politics, public policy and the day’s news, curated by The Texas Tribune’s award-winning journalists. Learn more.