Republicans again call for Oversight hearing on Afghanistan withdrawal

Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) gives an opening statement during a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Tuesday, November 16, 2021 to discuss combating ransomware attacks.
Greg Nash

Republicans on the House Oversight and Reform Committee are again calling for the panel to hold a hearing on the U.S. withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

In a letter to the committee chairwoman, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y), ranking member Rep. James Comer (R-K.Y.) and Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.) are asking that Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, and national security adviser Jake Sullivan testify before the panel in a public hearing.

The lawmakers said that previous briefings on the withdrawal — including those with the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, State Department, and with the Pentagon — were not satisfactory.

Comer and Grothman, who is the ranking member of the panel’s subcommittee on national security, previously asked for a hearing on the issue in August and September. 

“The complete lack of oversight is conspicuously surprising considering the Committee’s consistent and bipartisan engagement on Afghanistan — including your own — prior to the Biden Administration’s botched withdrawal,” reads the letter.

“Rather than pursue transparency and accountability, Committee Democrats have remained idle. Meanwhile, the situation in Afghanistan and the region continues to worsen,” they continue.

The U.S. officially withdrew from Afghanistan on Aug. 31, marking the end of the 20-year conflict. Republicans have criticized what they have called a chaotic withdrawal, during which the U.S. managed to evacuate over 124,000 people — the vast majority of which are Afghan refugees.

Blinken and Austin are scheduled to testify in a closed briefing with the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees on Feb. 2 regarding U.S. policy on Afghanistan.

Asked about the letter, a committee spokesperson told The Hill, “Chairs Maloney and [Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.)] already held a public hearing that extensively covered the situation in Afghanistan just last month,” an Oversight Committee spokesperson told The Hill in a statement, referring to a Dec. 7 hearing of the National Security Subcommittee.

“Committee Members on both sides of the aisle had the opportunity to question witnesses from the Department of Defense and the Department of State at both the public hearing and at a classified briefing that followed,” the spokesperson continued.

Tags Afghanistan withdrawal Antony Blinken Carolyn Maloney Glenn Grothman Hearing House Oversight Committee Jake Sullivan James Comer Lloyd Austin Stephen Lynch

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