(Manchester, NH) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, issued the following statement in response to President Biden’s address on U.S. evacuations from Kabul and on the conditions in Afghanistan:
“President Biden’s speech today made clear that the U.S. is accelerating rescue missions to protect those in danger in Afghanistan. I deeply appreciate American embassy personnel and U.S. troops who are on the ground facing unimaginable challenges as they work around the clock to get people to safety. While I’m encouraged that tens of thousands of people have been evacuated over the last 10 days, many more remain in peril and are top targets for the Taliban’s violence. Time is running out and bureaucracy is no excuse for lives lost. That’s why extending the withdrawal deadline past August 31st is essential to ensure the safety of American citizens and all our Afghan allies who spent years helping our troops. The U.S. must work closely with NATO and our international partners to put as many people on planes now.”
Shaheen has long expressed deep concerns about the United States’ unconditioned withdrawal from Afghanistan. Among these apprehensions is the immediate danger facing Afghan women and other groups vulnerable to the Taliban’s violence and oppression. Senator Shaheen repeatedly fought to make the inclusion of Afghan women in negotiations between the Taliban and Afghan government a U.S. foreign policy priority. Senator Shaheen met virtually with women members of Afghanistan’s Parliament to discuss the rights and futures of women and girls in Afghanistan as the United States withdraws. Shaheen also raised her concerns about the safety of women and girls with Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, during a Senate Foreign Relations hearing. During a congressional delegation visit to Afghanistan in 2019, Shaheen met with a group of Afghan women who described how dramatically their lives had improved since the Taliban government was toppled nearly two decades ago. Shaheen is the author of the Women, Peace and Security Act, which was signed into law in 2017 and ensures women’s leadership roles in conflict resolution and peace negotiations.
Senator Shaheen historically partnered with Senator John McCain (R-AZ) on efforts to protect Afghans who’ve risked their lives to support U.S. diplomatic efforts abroad by strengthening the Afghan SIV program. She continues to lead bipartisan efforts in Congress to reauthorize additional Afghan SIVs. The White House signed into law key provisions from the Afghan Allies Protection Act, a bill led by Shaheen and Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), as part of spending legislation. Their legislation helps protect the Afghan civilians who risked their lives to support the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.