Return to Transcripts main page
The Lead with Jake Tapper
Biden Won't Extend Aug. 31 Deadline To Leave Afghanistan; Taliban: Afghans Will Not Be Allowed To Leave The Country; Fauci: U.S. Could Have Pandemic Under Control By Spring 2022 If Most Eligible People Get Vaccinated; House Moves Forward On Infrastructure Bill; COVID Outlook; FAA Warns Travelers' "Unruly Behavior Doesn't Fly"; Any Moment: Biden Speaks On Afghanistan Withdrawal. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired August 24, 2021 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: We'll have more with "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER" right now.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
And we start with breaking news in our world lead. Any minute, we expect President Biden to speak at the White House. He will talk about his decision to stick with the August 31st deadline to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan. That means exactly one week from today. There could be no U.S. forces in Afghanistan for the first time in 20 years.
Moments ago, CNN learned that the first U.S. troops have already started leaving the country. But there are caveats to this pledge. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki just said that president Biden has asked for contingency plans in case he decides that American troops need to stay in Afghanistan past August 31st. And we should note a few days ago Biden says he was committed to troops staying until every American who wants to be out is out.
But we should also note the Taliban has insisted that they will not agree to any extension. The Taliban also complicating evacuation efforts today by refusing to allow Afghan civilians to leave the country. A Taliban spokesman saying the roads out the airport remain open for foreigners, but, quote, the Afghans leaving, we are not going to allow that and we are not even happy about it.
CNN's Phil Mattingly is live for us at the White House.
Phil, walk us through President Biden's reasoning for making this decision to stick with this August 31st withdrawal deadline.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: So, Jake, the way the president communicated to G7 allies in a closed-door virtual briefing this morning was that they believed and he believes that the U.S. is currently on pace to finish its evacuation efforts by that August 31st deadline. And that, in his mind, is the key element. Now, as you noted, he has directed his State Department and Defense
Department officials to draft contingency plans if that is not the case. But a driving force to this is what they've seen over the course of the last several days. Dramatic increases in evacuations totaling in the tens of thousands, more than 30,000 in just a 48-hour period, which has given White House officials the thought that they can actually achieve what they set out to do at the beginning of these stages.
Now, it's worth noting some of those leaders who are in the G7 meeting this morning have made clear to U.S. officials that they believe an extension is a necessity. And it's not just those allies, Republicans on Capitol Hill making very clear they believe this is not the right move.
Senator Ben Sasse, Republican from Nebraska, saying in a statement, quote, damn the deadline, calling on the president to tell the Taliban the U.S. will stay as long as necessary to take out both U.S. and Afghans in the country.
Jake, it's worth noting, it's not just Republicans. I was just texting back and forth with a Democratic member of the White House whose office has been deeply involved in trying to help this process along. And I asked, do you believe by August 31st it'll be possible to get everybody out who the president says should come out? The congressman responded logistically impossible.
TAPPER: Yeah, I think one of the things going on here, Phil, is Biden has made it a priority, clearly, for the U.S. government, for the Pentagon, to do everything they can to make sure not one more service member dies in Afghanistan. And that has really been a major component of why the U.S. troops with a few notable and secret exceptions have really not gone beyond the perimeter at the airport and also why he wants to get out August 31st. He does not want one more service member to be killed there.
MATTINGLY: Jake, this is such a critical component. It was another issue that the president brought up, really kind of making it a focal point in his short presentation to G7 leaders this morning. And that is that the risks, as the president laid it out, grow every single day for U.S. personnel on the ground.
Obviously, the U.S. is in constant communication with Taliban officials in Kabul and around Kabul to try and ease the pathway for individuals, both meshes and Americans and Afghans with special immigrant visas to get to the airport. There is every reason to believe based on what the Taliban has said that that coordination would cease to exist post-August 31st.
There is also the terror threat. A very real, very acute threat, they believe, will come to pass if they stay longer from groups like ISIS-K who they believe are a very real threat at the moment and a very real threat for U.S. personnel -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Phil Mattingly at the White House, thanks so much. Today, the Pentagon reported a massive increase in pace of evacuations
out of Kabul. The U.S. and it allies evacuating 21,600 people in the last 24 hours. Since August 14th, the Pentagon says more than 58,000 individuals have been evacuated by the U.S., by U.S. allies, and by private citizens.
Moments ago, the Biden administration confirmed that that number includes more than 4,000 American passport holders and their families. Those numbers are obviously a testament to the hardworking men and women of the U.S. military and our allies.
CNN's Sam Kiley reports from inside the Kabul airport about those lucky enough to get out and about those still desperately hoping they can.
SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Afghans have been banned from fleeing their country on evacuation flights. A Taliban spokesman said, the road that ends at the Kabul airport has been blocked. Foreigners can go through it but Afghans are not allowed to take the road.
This sudden announcement means that thousands of people who've worked for the international coalition and others who fear persecution under the extremist movement are now trapped. And these evacuees may be among the last flown to safety. The Taliban insists that there's no need to fear them. The spokesman went on, Afghans are not allowed because the crowd in there would grow even bigger and it increases the risk of Afghans losing their lives in stampedes, getting stuck in the crowd or being stepped on.
The numbers of Afghans crowding here are down, because the numbers getting out have been going up. On this day, 9,000 people were put on flights by midday. In the day before, more than 21,000 were flown to multiple countries by an international coalition. The pace accelerated through new efficiency, and the need to meet the deadline for the end of the evacuation just a week away.
JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: There's been no change to the time line of the mission, which is to have this completed by the end of the month.
KILEY: The Taliban move to stop Afghan nationals from leaving would drastically reduce the level of evacuations. And it makes it easier for the U.S. to meet the August 31st deadline set by the Taliban. The State Department estimates that there are thousands of Americans still in Afghanistan to be evacuated. At the airport, military officers say there have been a significant drop in the number of people trying to get into the airport gates already.
There's no doubting the success of the second biggest airlift in the history of mankind. Yes, there are thousands still to get on these planes. There are many people stuck in Kabul. But for most of these people, this is a moment of celebration in terms of their freedom, but also bittersweet because of what they're leaving behind.
That bitterness is immediate to Husna, her brother Haida who has a visa for the U.S. and has been trapped outside the airport. She's moments from flying. Marines do their best to help as these gates are still controlled by the Taliban. But her plane is due to take off and she's swept away with her younger sisters to a new life. Not knowing if her brother will ever join her there.
KILEY (on camera): Now, Jake, a number of U.S. troops have already been sent out of the country as part of this drawdown. We shouldn't read too much into that. These are essentially nonessential staff, so to speak. They are being moved out so that the maximum number of evacuees can be got out over the next 36 or 48 hours before the U.S. has to start its own withdrawal process in earnest, and that will be a very fraught and very, very high-intensity process during which they are at their most vulnerable from attack, particularly from the ISIS-k group -- Jake.
TAPPER: And, Sam, the pace of evacuations, as you noted, it's picked up significantly. The Pentagon says that the planes leaving Kabul roughly every 45 minutes. We know the evacuations included more than 4,000 American passport holders and their families. Have conditions improved not only inside the airport, but outside the airport, with so many flights going off and hopefully the congestion and crowds therefore alleviated a bit.
KILEY: There's absolutely no question that conditions have improved, the systems have improved. The numbers of aircraft coming and going have drastically escalated. And, at the same time, the Taliban have imposed, it would appear, already imposed at least something of a block on Afghans getting to the airport.
This morning, there are about 9,000 people still trying to get into the airport. That was the local estimate made by the military here. We're not exactly sure how many of them have been able to get in. They have been sporadically opening gates in different places so as to not create mass rush to one location and bring people in safely.
So, there's definitely been a visible decline in the numbers of people making it to the airfield. What we don't know is how many people beyond the Taliban checkpoints are pressing up against or whether or not they've just been driven home, Jake.
TAPPER: And, Sam, shed some light on this for us. So many of the decisions made by President Biden, whether it has to do with U.S. troops not going into the city of Kabul and providing safe corridors so people can travel to the airport more easily or the decision to leave August 31st, so many of these decisions are driven by the desire to not have one more service member be killed in Afghanistan.
They are very worried about a terrorist threat there. As somebody on the ground there, how al and credible does a terrorist attack seem as a possibility?
KILEY: Well, judging by the attitudes struck by military personnel here, they're taking it extremely seriously. They don't feel particularly safe on these extremely well defended banks. They are anxious that as the numbers draw down, that they become a better target of opportunity as it were. There have been inevitably secret pinprick missions out to go and rescue people who are stuck in tricky locations.
But the idea of sending large convoys into the city means that they simply expose their flanks to any and all terrorist groups. The Taliban they've been working very, very closely with indeed. But that will be exhausted on August the 31st. But the real principal threat is Islamic State in Khurasan, ISIS-K as it's called, Jake.
They are bitter enemies of the Taliban. So the Taliban has every interest in crushing any attempt by ISIS-K and earlier on today, we had information from commanders on the ground, from the Taliban commanders on the ground inside Kabul that four ISIS-K members have been arrested filming possible locations for terrorist attacks, Jake.
TAPPER: Yeah, that's a very real -- a very real fear. CNN's Sam Kiley live for us at the Kabul airport, thank you so much.
Let's bring in our panel of experts.
Susan Glasser, let me start with you. What are you expecting? What will you be watching for President Biden to say when he speaks in a few minutes?
SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, Jake, you know, they've been pushing it off for hours today, so I'm curious what kind of behind-the-scenes drama there's been leading up to this. As you know, President Biden met this morning with the G7 leaders and discussed whether and how to stick to this August 31st withdrawal date. So, I'll be looking to see how firmly he articulates that as the absolute date beyond it.
Also are they moving the goal post at all in terms of what the mission here is? As you pointed out, originally, President Biden said they would want to be able to evacuate any American and visa holder who wanted to be evacuated. Is that still the language and do we have a better grasp on how many remain to be evacuated? How many (AUDIO GAP) also that's a big question I have. How many Afghans overall do they anticipate will be resettled in United States?
And, you know, this is an enormous number. It might be the historic largest airlift of people ever. That would mean a huge expansion in some ways of our refugee program is, you know, under what term that's going to proceed? I'm curious about as well.
TAPPER: Colonel Leighton, the withdrawal deadline August 31st, it's only seven days away. Would that be enough time for the military to complete the evacuation mission for American citizens, for American green card holders, for special immigrant visa applicants, and get troops and weapons out, one more week? COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, Jake, it
would depend on how much Cooperation they get from the Taliban. In this case I would say that you can do everything except for the last part, the SIV holders, the special immigrant visa holders and other folks that are in even lesser visa categories like the so-called P-1 and P-2 visa categories. Those would be extremely difficult to extract and I don't think we have enough time to do that unfortunately.
TAPPER: David Chalian, let me ask you because we're hearing from a lot of Republicans that Biden needs to keep his promise to the special immigrant visas and the U.S. troops need to stay in Afghanistan as long as it takes before not only American citizens and green card holders are evacuated but also the special immigrant visas.
My impression from talking to people in the Biden administration is they don't take these Republican calls very seriously because they think, A, a lot of these Republicans are going to turn around and say keep these Afghan immigrants out of this country no matter what anyway. And, B, if there is one terrorist attack, one American service member is killed in such an operation, they expect to be blamed for that.
What's your -- what's your take from talking to Biden people?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yeah, I don't get the sense that the Republican criticism, also I would add to the list of criticism, the criticism that Joe Biden is taking his cues from the Taliban who say everybody must be out August 31st. I don't think that criticism is weighing all that heavily in their decision-making here. I think it's more hearing from somebody like the Democratic House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff last night saying it's highly unlikely they can accomplish what Joe Biden's stated goals are to accomplish between now and next August 31st.
So, I'd be listening for what assurances does President Biden tell the American people that he's been given by his military advisers, by the State Department, what have you, that this can actually accomplish everything he said he wants to accomplish in this one week's time.
I think that's going to be important.
You're talking about those SIV applicants. Remember what president Biden said last week, Jake. Yes, he put Americans, American passport holders above all else, obviously. But then he said of near equal importance, of near equal priority were getting those Afghans who helped the American effort over 20 years in this war out as well.
So, there was not a lot of wiggle room there that Joe Biden at the end of last week was sort of indicating in any way that he's okay leaving a lot of these Afghans that helped the American effort behind. And yet that may be what happens here.
TAPPER: And, yet, Colonel, the Taliban is telling the U.S. to stop evacuating Afghan nationals, including the special immigrant visa applicants. They're worried about a mass exodus of Afghans with skills and education. They've even blocked the roads to the airport to Afghans.
How risky is it for these Afghans for merely just trying to get to the airport?
LEIGHTON: Well, it's incredibly risky, Jake. I've been in contact with several of them myself. And right now, several of them are waiting at the airport gates, waiting for them to be opened. And, you know, they need to know which specific gates to go to. There is no information that's forthcoming.
It's a really bad situation for them. While inside the airport, everything is running fairly efficiently, outside the airport for these people, the situation is still chaotic.
TAPPER: Susan, as a political matter, I don't know if you've noticed, but the Twitter feed of the White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain is full of retweets from liberal activists and liberal journalists attacking the news media for not praising the Biden administration more. Meanwhile, there are a lot of us who have covered this war who are still hearing from Americans stuck in Afghanistan unable to reach the airport.
I'm wondering what your response is to this airing of grievances we're seeing in Mr. Klain's Twitter feed.
GLASSER: Look, I've been really struck as well, Jake, by that and just what a partisan moment it is. You have on the left, as you said, a lot of Democrats now being re-tweeted by the White House chief of staff who are extremely upset at any criticism of Biden, and they've been essentially conflating at times criticism and reporting about what's happening right now as if it equals support for the war in Afghanistan, which, of course, is kind of a ridiculous statement.
The press has to be able to report in real time what's happening right now. Not every report is about the last 20 years of journalism in Afghanistan. I should note that you and I have covered that for a long time, including being there on the ground. I was back in 2001 when the U.S. invasion began.
But to your point as well, there's also Republican posturing. You see a lot of partisan criticism of Joe Biden from people who don't even want to accept Afghans to get in but are bashing the president for not getting them out of Afghanistan. And so, you know, in this polarized moment you see both sides, I think, reverting to a lot of very tribal instincts when it comes to what's happening on the ground, affecting real people in Afghanistan who don't care about our partisan politics.
TAPPER: David, take a listen to Republican Senator Ben Sasse who has been critical of not only Biden but also Trump when it comes to Afghanistan. Senator Sasse wrote: Damn the deadline, Mr. President. Tell the Taliban we're getting our people out however long it takes and that we're perfectly willing to spin Taliban, al Qaeda, and ISIS blood to do it, unquote. I mean, I think the issue there that Senator Sasse respectfully does
not address is the risk of spilling American blood, which is a real risk.
CHALIAN: I mean, the national security adviser Jake Sullivan couldn't have been more clear how acute that risk is right now to American military personnel. No doubt about that, Jake.
But I do think this -- we are likely to hear Joe Biden yet again wrap this all in that broader strategic decision about bringing an end to a 20-year war, understanding that there is a lot of support from the American people. What we've seen the American people question in recent days is the "how" this is being done. And now with this near- definitive deadline, maybe there's going to be some contingency wiggle room there.
But with this deadline approaching one week from now, I think even with this great military effort that we have seen that perhaps only the U.S. military is capable of doing and this ramping up, that you're still a week away, and that question then of how we get from here to there in a week I think continues to linger for this president and this White House.
TAPPER: Yeah, and then of course there are all those American citizens and green card holders and Afghan special immigrant visa applicants who are stuck in their homes in Kabul or around Afghanistan trying to figure out how to get out of the country.
Everyone, stick around. Any moment, we're going to hear from President Biden about his decision on Afghanistan. We're going to bring that to you live, of course.
And Dr. Fauci giving a new timeline on a return to normal. And that's if -- if holdouts start getting vaccinated right now.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our health lead, a new study from the CDC is showing how COVID vaccines are less effective against the delta variant when it comes to getting infected. Researchers looked at essential and front line healthcare workers and found vaccines were 91 percent effective before the delta variant, and after delta, 66 percent effective. This is consistent with other studies that showed just how powerful the delta variant is. But other studies say that vaccines still reduce your risk by two-thirds and that the vaccine remains your best way to stay out of the hospital or the morgue.
Now, as CNN's Nick Watt reports, health experts in the U.S. are urging more unvaccinated people to get their first shot if Americans want to see any sense of normalcy by spring 2022. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: As we get into the spring, we could start getting back to a degree of normality.
NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That's more than six months away and won't happen unless we make it happen.
FAUCI: If we keep lingering without getting those people vaccinated that should be vaccinated, this thing could linger on, leading to the development of another variant which could complicate things.
WATT: After the FDA's full approval of the Pfizer's vaccine yesterday, fresh vaccine mandates agreed or announced for government workers in New Jersey, Disneyworld cast members, many Chevron employees, students at the University of Minnesota.
JEFF ZIENTS, WHITE HOUSE CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE COORDINATOR: You have the power to protect your communities and help end the pandemic through vaccination requirements.
WATT: Now, Louisiana has among the worst vaccination rates in the land, and LSU Tiger fans, you're now going to need proof of a vaccine or a negative test before coming to football games.
FAUCI: The time has come, enough is enough. We've just got to get people vaccinated.
WATT: So when might the FDA greenlight vaccines for the under 12s?
DR. VIVEK MURTHY, SURGEON GENERAL: I think it's possible that we might see that process complete by the end of the calendar year.
WATT: So, masks in schools in the meantime?
Well, a federal judge ruled Kentucky's governor can't mandate them right now. So he canceled his mandate even though he knows it works.
GOV. ANDY BESHEAR (D), KENTUCKY: It's everything from a district in Kentucky that went back for three days masking optional and had 700 quarantines in just the first three days.
WATT: Nationwide, the average daily COVID-19 death toll is now over 1,000 and still climbing. Average new cases a day more than 150,000. Hasn't been that high since January. But is that leveling off?
DR. FRANCIS COLLINS, DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF HEALTH: Maybe you could kind of peak at that curve and say maybe it's trying to find its way from the steepest slope into something a little bit more gradual, but, boy, no reason to be too confident of that.
WATT: Paige Ruiz (ph), an unvaccinated mom from Texas died from COVID- 19 before he could hold her newborn. Here's a very simple message from Paige's mom.
ROBIN ZINSOU, LOST DAUGHTER TO COVID-19: Mask up, get vaccinated so this doesn't happen to your family.
WATT (on camera): Now, Jake, you mentioned the confirmation from the CDC today that the delta variant has dented the efficiency of the vaccines. But here is the good news. They are still very good at preventing severe disease. In fact, the study just carried out here in Los Angeles found the unvaccinated are five times more likely to be infected and 29 times more likely to wind up in the hospital -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Nick Watt, thanks so much.
Let's talk about this with Dr. Paul Offit. He's director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. He's also a member of the FDA Vaccines Advisory Committee.
Dr. Offit, let's start with the CDC study. Effectiveness dropping from 91 percent to 66 percent when it comes to infection once the delta variant accounted for the majority of the circulating virus. What are your concerns about this? Are you worried that this might be another reason that vaccine skeptics avoid getting the shot?
DR. PAUL OFFIT, DIRECTOR OF THE VACCINE EDUCATION CENTER, CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL OF PHILADELPHIA: Well, what you want from this vaccine is you want it to protect you against serious disease. And it does that. It does that with the delta variant, as we recently learned with that Provincetown outbreak. So, that's the good news.
You would expect over time with this kind of vaccine that there would be a decrease in neutralizing antibodies in circulation, a decrease in protection against asymptomatic infection or mildly symptomatic infection. That's okay. You can still get on top of this virus and significantly reduce its spread if you have high vaccination rates as we've seen in places that have high vaccination rates.
So I'm not worried about that at all. Many vaccines out there aren't very good at protecting against asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic infections. I think the biggest mistake we made in communicating this vaccine was to calls those cases breakthroughs. Those aren't breakthroughs. A breakthrough is when despite full vaccination, you're hospitalized.
TAPPER: Fauci said that things could get back to relative normal in the spring of 2022 if the overwhelming majority of unvaccinated Americans, which is nearly 90 million people, get the shot. Can we reach that level without businesses, schools, governments imposing vaccine mandates at this point?
OFFIT: No. I think that you have 80 plus million people who told you they didn't want to get vaccinated even though they know 650,000 people have died, even though they know that the vaccine is safe and effective. They just don't want it. They're telling you this is a civil liberty or personal choice.
And I think the only way that you're going to get that group vaccinated is to compel them to be vaccinated by mandates.
TAPPER: What about kids under the age of 12? When will the FDA approve vaccines and dosage for them?
OFFIT: Well, it doesn't look like the -- Pfizer has yet submitted that to the FDA's Vaccine Advisory Committee and the FDA.
And we probably won't have it -- I think the earlier statement was right -- probably not until mid-winter, which is a problem, because you have now the Delta variant. You're heading into the winter months, when this virus is more easily spread. And you're going to have a group of fully susceptible people all in one place. That's not a good recipe.
TAPPER: What do you say to parents who think the process for approving the vaccine for children younger than 12 is taking way too long?
OFFIT: I don't think so.
I mean, you want to make sure this vaccine is safe, safe, safe and effective. And so you want to make sure vaccine -- you're going to be doing trials in 4,000, 7,000, 10,000 children, and then you're going to be giving the vaccine to millions of children. So you want to make sure those studies are done as well as possible.
I think we're moving as quickly as we can. It's just not easy to move that quickly when you talk about doing big vaccine drills.
TAPPER: The governor of Oregon just announced a new statewide mask mandate for outdoor events for when social distinct distancing is not possible, even if you're vaccinated.
Does that make scientific sense?
OFFIT: That's a little surprising.
I mean, you have that on the one hand, and then you have places in Kentucky where you can't get a mask mandate for indoors. It's odd, isn't it? I mean, if we had sort of one government, I think we would be much better at this. But we have sort of 50 different governments.
So you have places like Vermont, where the spread of the diseases low, and then you have places like Mississippi or Missouri, where the spread of the virus is high. It's just hard to watch.
The 50 percent of 55 percent immunization rate would be better if it was spread out across the country, but it's not. It's 70 percent in some places, 30 percent in others.
We need to get people vaccinated. It's so easy to get out of this pandemic. Vaccinate the unvaccinated. But we just refuse to do it. It's really hard to watch.
TAPPER: Dr. Paul Offit, thank you so much. Appreciate it, sir.
We're waiting to hear from President Biden on the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. We will bring that to you live.
Plus, the House of Representatives just voted to pass the president's massive $3.5 trillion budget framework. We're going to go live to Capitol Hill next.
TAPPER: Breaking news in our politics lead now.
The House of Representatives has just passed a rule, which in turn approves President Biden's massive $3.5 trillion budget framework. This comes after Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, got a group of 10 rather stubborn moderate Democrats to agree to the resolution. In exchange, those moderate Democrats got a promise in writing that there will be a vote on the infrastructure bill by September 27.
CNN's Ryan Nobles joins us now.
Ryan, this is a big win for the Biden administration.
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it certainly is, Jake, also a win for the Democratic leaders here in the House and Senate.
Both Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi have been insistent on this dual track for both the bipartisan infrastructure plan and the budget reconciliation piece. About 24 hours ago, it looked like that plan was in serious trouble, as that group of 10 moderate Democrats said that they were not going to vote for the budget resolution until they got a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure package.
But Speaker Pelosi, as she often does, found a legislative way forward, meeting with these moderate Democrats until the early -- into the late-night hours last night and hashing out this deal. Basically, what she agreed to was a promise that the House will vote on that bipartisan infrastructure deal by September 27.
That gives the House of Representatives time now to craft that big $3.5 trillion budget plan. Right now, all they have approved is that top-line number. The work begins now to figure out exactly where all that money is going to before it then goes back to the Senate and begins the rest of this process.
So this was a big hurdle, Jake, but we should keep in mind they still have a long way to go before anything becomes law -- Jake.
TAPPER: So, Ryan, what's next? What's next in the process?
NOBLES: So, the next stage in this process is that the House will begin marking up this $3.5 trillion budget package.
And they said that they will do that as early as the first week of September. Now, keep in mind, the House of Representatives is leaving. They're not planning on coming back here until September 20. That leaves only seven days after they return to get that budget reconciliation package moving through the House and passed, so that they can then vote on the bipartisan plan on September 27.
There are a lot of moving parts in this process, Jake, and it seems, at each stage, there is the potential that the whole deal could collapse. They got over one hump today, but there are still many hurdles that they need to cross before it is all over -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Ryan Nobles on Capitol Hill for us, thank you so much.
We're waiting to hear from President Biden on the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. We're going to bring that to you once it starts.
Also coming up: stuck in a hangar in a hot desert climate. Reports of what evacuees are dealing with after they get out of Kabul.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Continuing with our world lead.
While the U.S. military is performing heroically and setting records for getting people out of Afghanistan, there has been concern about the conditions at the base where thousands of those evacuees are arriving.
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has been to that base in Doha, Qatar.
And, Nick, even though the Pentagon today acknowledged conditions have been terrible, you are hearing from people who say things are at least improving.
NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Yes, I mean, certainly it was an almost impossible task, frankly, for airmen on the Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, one of a number of facilities that now eventually around the world are dealing with these thousands of tired, desperate, at times exhausted, even hungry Afghan refugees arriving.
Now, when I got there on Tuesday, they were beginning to see the scope of the problem around them, frankly, just not enough air conditioned spaces in the 100-plus-degree Fahrenheit desert space. It is exceptionally hot here in the Qatari desert, almost impossible at times to think.
And, of course, the issue of feeding clothing, housing them as time has gone by. I understand that, for a period, it was pretty tough here in Qatar. But after seeing some reporting today suggesting that that had perhaps got to the point where internal cables were passed around the State Department about it, I reached out to a lot of the Afghans on some of these bases and spoke to some of them, who sent me pictures of an improved situation, certainly. Some complaints about the conditions they were in, and one individual talked about how they were being asked to queue for quite a long time outside in order to get their food daily.
But, sadly, this is one of the impacts of moving such a vast number of individuals quite so quickly with, sadly, so little notice. But, on the whole, it appears as though they have managed to get a handle on this.
And it's just I think one example of despite the extraordinary speed in which events in Kabul unraveled and this evacuation program had to get underway, how many of the servicemen have simply stepped up to that. And we've seen this quite extraordinary airlift and then all the problems down stream fixed, as far as we can tell -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Nick Paton Walsh live in Doha for us -- thank you so much.
Coming up, why U.S. officials are warning that your flight could be at risk, and it's entirely preventable. We'll explain, next.
TAPPER: In our money lead today, unruly behavior doesn't fly. That's the government's new warning to air travelers as CNN's aviation correspondent Pete Muntean shows us there's plenty of bad behavior flying around.
PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Thousands of ugly, unruly passenger incidents reported just this year are putting not only flight attendants in danger --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got a disruptive customer in the back.
MUNTEAN: -- but also are distracting pilots, according to a new public service announcement by the Federal Aviation Administration.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An unruly passenger we need to get off the airplane.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you need authorities on the ground?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah.
MUNTEAN: The just released video features recordings of actual radio transmissions between flight crews and air traffic control when confronted with what the agency calls issues that have climbed to intolerable levels. Flight crews reported just shy of 4,000 incidents this year with nearly three-quarters involving the federal transportation mask mandate and many passengers drinking alcohol illegally brought on board.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By law, you must follow all directions from your flight attendants.
MUNTEAN: Traditional warnings from the agency have become more creative, including memes in hopes of going viral on social media and even turning to kids to send the message.
UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: They should know better if they're like adults.
CAPTAIN DENNIS TAJER, ALLIED PILOTS ASSOCIATION: It's a very serious moment.
MUNTEAN: American Airlines Captain Dennis Tajer of the Allied Pilot says flight crews are tired of distractions and abuse. Just last week, the FAA fined one passenger $45,000 after he was accused of throwing his luggage, grabbing a flight attendant, and putting his head up her skirt.
TAJER: An unruly passenger is not just creating havoc and violence in the space that they live in. They are spreading that out through the airplane, and they are distracting the pilots.
MUNTEAN (on camera): The FAA has slapped unruly passengers with more than a million dollars in fines just this year. But that is all. It cannot bring criminal charges. That's why some airline unions are calling on the Department of Justice to get involved. They say that prison time would really send this message -- Jake.
TAPPER: Sure would. Pete Muntean, thanks so much. Appreciate it.
We're waiting for President Biden to begin speaking any moment. He was originally scheduled to speak at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. It's now almost 5:00 p.m. Eastern. He wants to discuss how he is sticking to his deadline to have troops out of Afghanistan. We will bring that to you live. Stay with us.
TAPPER: And welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
We begin with breaking news. President Biden is set to speak any moment. The president sticking with plans to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan by August 31st. That's just one week from today.
The decision to withdraw comes as the Taliban has stated August 31st is their final day as far as they're concerned and the -- their final day for the U.S. to be there. And the U.S. military has drastically ramped up the number of evacuations of Americans and others.
As CNN's Oren Liebermann reports for us now, the evacuation process was further complicated today with the Taliban saying that they will no longer let any Afghans enter the airport to leave the country.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The tide of Afghan evacuees flowing out of Kabul is at a new peak, as the effort to move as many people as possible enters its final seven days. Twenty-one thousand six hundred people flown out in 24 hours. The U.S. alone flew out twelve thousand seven hundred people, averaging nearly 350 per flight. That's 15 times what the U.S. flew out a week ago.
Since August 14th, 58,700 people have been evacuated from Kabul, the airport which once had 14,000 people on the field waiting for flights now down to about 5,000. Though there are many more outside desperate to get in.
But as the operation improves, the environment grows more tense. The military's monitoring threats from ISIS-K and others aware that crowds are a target for terror groups, and the Taliban warning the U.S. to be out by the end of the month, telling Afghans they won't be allowed to pass the road to the airport.
ZABIULLAH MUJAHID, TALIBAN SPOKESMAN (through translator): We have indigenous doctors, professors, academics. They are talented people. They are talent of this country. They should not leave this country. They should work in their own specialist areas. They should not go to other countries to those Western countries.
LIEBERMANN: One question the Biden administration hasn't answered, how many Americans are left in Afghanistan? The White House promised to evacuate every U.S. citizen who wants out, but the Pentagon refusing to say how many that is.
JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: I don't think there's a perfect number that we know with certainty of all Americans in Afghanistan.
LIEBERMANN: The sheer number of Afghans leaving the country has created its own set of problems. A lack of basic sanitation at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, the first stop for many of those fleeing Kabul.
KIRBY: We recognize that things were and in many ways still are not at the level of sanitation and good hygiene that we want.
LIEBERMANN: Meanwhile, Afghan evacuees beginning to arrive in the United States. In the past 24 hours, four flights landed at Dulles International Airport outside D.C. with more than a thousand passengers.