Biden admin tested by Afghanistan, coronavirus, Hurricane Ida – 3 crises with no easy solutions

All three crises are placing pressure on the administration to come up with solutions to prevent the problems from getting worse and to help quiet critics

At just over seven months in office, the Biden administration is facing three major crises, any one of which would be enough to deal with.

There’s the fallout from the deadly Afghanistan withdrawal, the continued concern about the coronavirus pandemic and the still-unknown damage from Hurricane Ida.

All are placing enormous pressure on the administration to come up with solutions – both to prevent the problems from getting worse and to help quiet critics.

On Tuesday, Biden defended his decision to end U.S. involvement in Afghanistan – even at the cost of 13 American lives in last week’s terror attack in Kabul.

"I was not going to extend this war forever," Biden said Tuesday during a speech from the White House. And I was not going to extend a forever exit."

But the way the pullout was handled – with the deaths of U.S. service members, the struggle to evacuate Americans out of Kabul and the takeover of billions of dollars in U.S. military equipment by the Taliban – has Republicans calling for Biden’s resignation.

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"Mr. President, if you had an ounce of respect for your 50 years of service to this nation, and to move forward toward healing, to united our nation, to get past this nightmare that you’ve created, then by God, man, resign," U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins, R-La., said Tuesday.

But Biden insisted that ending two decades of involvement in Afghanistan would ultimately prove to be the right decision.

"There’s nothing China or Russia would rather have, want more in this competition, than the United States to be bogged down another decade in Afghanistan," Biden said.

FDA uncertainty

In dealing with the coronavirus, the Biden administration – through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other outlets -- has been accused of sending unclear messages about face masks, vaccines and other policies.

It has also gone seven months with no permanent leader at the helm of the Food and Drug Administration, the agency that decides if vaccines produced by companies are safe for the public to use and effective in preventing infections.

Tuesday brought news that uncertainty at the FDA may be taking a toll inside the organization. The FDA reportedly confirmed that two top officials plan to step down over disagreements with the White House about vaccine booster shots.

The FDA said that Marion Gruber, director of the agency’s Office of Vaccines Research and Review, and her deputy director, Phil Krause, will leave in October and November, respectively, according to CNBC

The Food and Drug Administration sign is seen at its headquarters in Washington.

The Food and Drug Administration sign is seen at its headquarters in Washington.

They were reportedly frustrated that the CDC and the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) were spearheading decisions that should be the responsibility of the FDA, the biotech news outlet Endpoint News reported, citing a former senior FDA leader as its source. 

Gruber and Krause finally decided to step down after the Biden administration went ahead with a booster program scheduled to start the week of Sept. 20 – without FDA approval. 

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Meanwhile, the administration’s messaging on coronavirus safety continues to be undermined by Democrats who go against restrictions or guidance in their private lives while expecting the public to comply with the rules. 

In the latest example, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., was seen maskless at a wedding in New Mexico for a member of Biden’s Cabinet – Interior Secretary Deb Haaland -- in violations of that state’s coronavirus restrictions, according to the Washington Free Beacon.

Haaland also was seen maskless at the event, according to the report.

Ida’s impact

Still unclear Tuesday was the full impact of Hurricane Ida, which slammed into Louisiana and other parts of the Gulf Coast on Sunday with winds as strong as 170 miles per hour.

But the damage was seen as severe, both in New Orleans – where the entire city lost electricity on Sunday -- and in outlying areas such as Grand Isle, which the Jefferson Parish president described as "uninhabitable" at a Tuesday news conference.

Ida was blamed for at least four deaths in both Louisiana and Mississippi, where two people were killed when seven vehicles fell into a 20-foot-deep hole near Lucedale.

The extensive damage caused by Ida was expected to be the first major test for Deanne Criswell, who Biden appointed his administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

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On Tuesday, Criswell tweeted photos of herself meeting with Louisiana’s governor and the state’s emergency preparedness office as the hurricane response continued.

"We have a lot of work ahead of us and no one is under the illusion that this is going to be a short process," Gov. John Bel Edwards told reporters, according to The Associated Press.

Fox News’ Peter Aitken, Bradford Betz and David Aaro and The Associated Press contributed to this story.