Show an ad over header. AMP

I am the FIRST

Top Dems offer Biden cover to reverse course on full Afghan troop withdrawal

Two powerful Senate chairmen are questioning plans to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by May 1, providing potential cover for President Biden to change his mind as he faces a rapidly approaching deadline.

Why it matters: The war is America's longest and most costly. Former President Trump negotiated a departure timetable with the Taliban, and his successor has indicated he's ready to honor that commitment.

  • The unstable environment on the ground, as well as the politics of making such a bold move, have put increasing pressure on Biden as the clock winds down.

Driving the news: Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said last week that Biden may have to reconsider the deadline. He told reporters he's concerned about "the viability" of the peace process in Afghanistan.

  • Menendez drove home his hesitancy to Axios on Wednesday.
  • "We have to look at the realities of what's happening in Afghanistan. It seems to me the Taliban is not meeting its obligations. After so many (American) lives and national treasure, we need to make sure that when we leave, we leave in a way that can provide stability."
  • Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), chair of the Armed Services Committee and an Army veteran, has gone even further: He said Biden should not withdraw all forces and is worried having no presence in the region could give way to further terrorist attacks.
  • "I would expect some extension,” Reed ultimately said of the timeframe.

But, but, but: Beyond the chairmen's unity, congressional Democrats are all over the map.

  • Sen. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), a Navy veteran who served in the region for several years, told Axios, "May 1 is pretty quick."
  • Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), an important swing-state lawmaker, said: "Anytime we have invested that much blood and treasure in an area that has no more of an outcome or stabilization, then you have to reevaluate. But what happens if you do leave at this point in time?"
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a key figure on the progressive left, told Axios that Biden needs to get out now: "There will always be a reason to delay, but President Biden is committed to meeting this deadline. I support him in that."

The latest: The Biden administration has proposed plans for an interim, power-sharing agreement between the Taliban and Afghan leaders before May 1. It would be supported by neighboring countries and the United Nations.

  • The Washington Post's David Ignatius recently outlined the administration's next steps to obtain this regional and international buy-in.

Between the lines: Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), one of Biden's closest allies in Congress, told Axios, "This is weighing very heavily" on the president. "He's having a hard time."

  • Tearing up, Coons recalled the two attending funerals for soldiers from their home state who had been killed in Afghanistan.
  • "I don't think people should make these decisions casually; I think it shows his character that is wrestling with this," Coons added. "That's Joey. He lives in these spaces."

The bottom line: Biden is well-advised on foreign affairs by a veteran national security team, and keeps his own counsel after many visits to the region and decades on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

  • Observers also can't discount his personal connection to the military: His late son, Beau, served in the Army — a personal connection those close to the president say factors into such consequential decisions.

Gas prices rise in several states as pipeline outage crimps supply

Gas stations in several statesare out of fuel and AAA reports the nationwide average price breached $3-per-gallon for the first time in six years amid the cyberattack-induced shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline.

Driving the news: The ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline, the nation's largest refined fuel pipeline that extends from Texas into the Northeast, is creating a scramble as the outage persists into its sixth day.

Keep reading... Show less

Read: What Liz Cheney told the House GOP behind closed doors before her ouster

"If you want leaders who will enable and spread his destructive lies, I’m not your person, you have plenty of others to choose from," Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) told House Republicans before they voted to remove her as the party's conference chair on Wednesday.

Why it matters: In her address, Cheney promised that she "will be leading the fight to restore our party" and make it "worthy again of being the party of Lincoln," signaling that she doesn’t plan on going anywhere soon and will continue to be a voice of dissent in the party.

Keep reading... Show less

House Republicans remove Liz Cheney from leadership over Trump opposition

House Republicans voted Wednesday to oust Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) as conference chair, capping months of growing backlash over her criticisms of former President Trump, according to two sources in the room.

Why it matters: The stunning removal of the No. 3 House Republican over her condemnation of Trump's election lies reflects the influence the former president still retains over the GOP. It's the most significant turning point in an internal party feud that is unlikely to subside any time soon.

Keep reading... Show less

Biden names third slate of judicial nominees

President Biden on Wednesday announced a new slate of nominations for federal judges, with the president now having put forward 20 names to fill judicial vacancies.

Why it matters: The administration described the most recent picks as an embodiment of "the diversity of our nation," and said that Biden is continuing a trend of announcing judicial nominees at a record pace.

Keep reading... Show less

Consumer prices jumped 4.2% in April compared to last year

The latest gauge on inflation released Wednesday morning showed that prices rose 4.2% over last year, based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Why it matters: The gains were highest since September 2008. Prices jumped significantly compared to the start of the pandemic last year, when lockdowns drove down demand.

Keep reading... Show less

What China's population woes mean for the rest of the world

China released its censusreport on Tuesday, showing that the number of births in the country last year dropped 18% from 2019. And China isn't alone — populations have been stagnating globally for decades, including in the U.S.

Why it matters: China has long relied on its large population — the biggest in the world — as a core engine for economic growth. The way that it, and officials across the globe, deal with changing demographics will lead to shifts in the economy and geopolitics.

Keep reading... Show less

Inside Liz Cheney's plans to continue fighting for soul of GOP after leadership ouster

As she faces a voteto be thrown out of House Republican leadership, Rep. Liz Cheney has told associates she doesn’t plan on going anywhere — and plans to run for re-election.

What to watch: In the meantime,as she sees it, she will aggressively pursue a fight for the soul of the Republican Party, after an expected vote to strip her of her post as GOP conference chair, the party's No. 3 House post.

Keep reading... Show less

Biden plans to send envoy as Israel and Hamas escalate toward war

Tel Aviv — With Israel and Hamas now engaged in their most destructive fight in seven years, the Biden administration is considering plans to dispatch a State Department official to join the de-escalation efforts, five Israeli officials and Western diplomats tell me.

Driving the news: The fighting intensified overnight, with Hamas and other militants firing a second barrage of over 100 rockets toward Tel Aviv and other nearby cities, and Israel continuing its air campaign in the Gaza Strip by destroying high-rise buildings, Hamas facilities and rocket units.

Keep reading... Show less



Get Goodhumans in your inbox

Most Read

More Stories