But in many cases, lawmakers gave up on the government-led operation weeks ago and instead turned to their own connections with foreign officials, private organizations and individuals navigating private charter flights to and from Afghanistan.
Concerned donors have given millions to an effort called Operation Flyaway and led by the Raven Advisory firm to assist with evacuations by compiling a list of more than 4,000 Afghans willing to help Americans. Veteran groups have sprung into action by volunteering to organize what many call a digital Dunkirk. Some have taken it upon themselves to try and save Afghans they know personally from their time abroad.
An informal support network has been created together with conference bureaus to fill the gaps.
“It’s inspiring,” said Mr. Waltz, a former Green Beret who served in Afghanistan. “But at the same time, I think it’s a real testament to how badly the administration dropped the ball.”
The frustration is twofold. When New Jersey Democrat Andy Kim sat down with a top State Department official this weekend, he hoped it could provide a lifeline to the American family he was evacuating from Afghanistan.
mr. Kim entered the meeting with a simple request: What was the best phone number the family could call for help?
“I was told there is no such song,” he said wrote on Twitter.
In an interview, Mr. Kim, who served in Afghanistan as a strategic adviser to the military, whose office had received more than 6,000 requests for assistance, many of them led by veterans or national security officials trying to help Afghans with whom they had worked. The requests came in, he said, through “texts, WhatsApp, signals, email, phone calls — just literally around the clock.”
“I tell them I can’t promise anything here, but they feel what I feel, and that is that we should try and not just sit on our hands,” said Mr. Kim.