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Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.) Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

Several Democratic lawmakers are calling on Biden to push back the Aug. 31 deadline to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan, arguing that U.S. military presence is crucial to the safe evacuation of both Americans and Afghan partners.

Driving the news: Three members of the Armed Services Committee urged the president to reconsider the deadline following a classified congressional briefing from administration officials on the situation in Afghanistan.

What they’re saying: “The cries for help are not ones we can ignore,” Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.) said at press conference following the briefing.

  • Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.), a former Army Ranger who served two combat tours in Afghanistan, said, “the deadline is when the mission is accomplished, and we bring our people home.”
  • “Make no mistake, this evacuation is an extremely dangerous mission and it's set to get more dangerous in the coming days,” said Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Va.), a former U.S. Navy helicopter pilot. “I requested that the SecDef and SecState encourage the President in the strongest possible terms to reconsider that deadline.”

Between the lines: There is considerable distance between Democratic lawmakers and the administration on the correct course out of Afghanistan.

  • Kim told Axios after the news conference that the contingency of members who want the deadline extended is significant and bipartisan. 
  • Pressed again in a classified briefing today by Crow about how many Americans are still in Afghanistan, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Gen. Mark Milley declined to provide any estimates, two sources in the room confirmed to Axios' Alayna Treene.

The other side: Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) introduced legislation last week that, if passed, would limit the Defense Department’s ability to withdraw forces until evacuation is complete unless there is an imminent threat of hostilities. 

  • The legislation would also require the Secretary of Defense to issue a daily report to Congress regarding the ongoing evacuation operation in Afghanistan, including the number of Americans still in country.

Go deeper

Zalmay Khalilzad steps down as Afghanistan envoy

Photo: Susan Walsh-Pool/Getty Images

Zalmay Khalilzad stepped down as special envoy for Afghanistan peace talks on Monday, two months after the Taliban seized control of Kabul in a disastrous conclusion to the 20-year war in Afghanistan.

Why it matters: Khalilzad was the architect of the Trump administration's 2019 peace deal with the Taliban, which the head of U.S. Central Command called "the primary accelerant to lowering morale and general efficiency of the Afghan military."

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Axios AM Deep Dive: America’s murder surge

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images

Homicides rose at the fastest rate in at least six decades last year. This Axios AM Deep Dive, led by Future correspondent Bryan Walsh, looks at the state of gun crime.

6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Senate Democrats target billionaires

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

After failing to get a deal on other planned tax increases, key Senate Democrats are pivoting to a billionaires' income tax to pay for President Biden's social spending.

The big picture: No advanced economy has attempted anything similar on such a scale.

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