- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 24, 2021

House Republicans proposed two separate resolutions Tuesday on Afghanistan, one condemning the Biden administration’s handling of the U.S. withdrawal and another calling for the Pentagon’s inspector general to investigate the withdrawal.

President Biden has remained under significant pressure from lawmakers since the U.S.-backed Afghan government fell to the Taliban in mid-August, which many say resulted from multiple unforced errors as the U.S. decamped after close to two decades in the country.

Rep. Mike Waltz, Florida Republican, proposed a strongly worded resolution Tuesday condemning “President Biden’s failure to heed the advice of military and intelligence failures about the speed and nature of the Taliban offensive,” and “present a coherent counter-terrorism or evacuation plan to the American people.”

He was joined in the resolution by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana, and Conference Chairwoman Elise Stefanik of New York.

“President Biden has embarrassed the United States on the world stage and created the worst foreign policy blunder in our modern history,” Mr. Waltz said. “Rather than heeding the advice of military leaders and lawmakers, President Biden created a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan that he alone owns – all for the sake of seeking a headline that he would withdraw our troops prior to the 20th anniversary of September 11th.”

Mr. Waltz, a former Army Green Beret, is among several House Republicans who have grown increasingly vocal in opposition to the troop withdrawal since the administration announced it in April.

On Aug. 13, just days before Kabul fell to the Taliban, Mr. Waltz wrote an open letter to Mr. Biden requesting air support for Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) and demanding that the president cut off aid to Pakistan, who he said was dictating the Taliban.

“At the least, Pakistan is complicit with the Taliban advance and is choosing not to coordinate with the ANSF,” he said. “At worst, the Pakistani military and intelligence services may be directly aiding the Taliban offensive.”

The accusations against Pakistan prompted a tersely worded response from that nation’s ambassador to the U.S.

Asad Khan said Mr. Waltz’s letter mischaracterized “Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan.”

“Pakistan’s leadership has consistently said that we have no favorites in Afghanistan and would work with any government in Kabul that has the support of the Afghan people,” Mr. Khan wrote in response.

“We continued to urge both the Afghan government and the Taliban to show flexibility and engage more meaningfully in order to secure a political settlement and a comprehensive ceasefire,” Mr. Kahn continued. “Unfortunately, neither side was in any mood to listen.”

Separately Rep. Carlos Gimenez of Florida was joined by 13 Republican co-sponsors Tuesday in calling for the Defense Department’s watchdog to investigate the withdrawal and produce a report for Congress on findings within 90 days of the bill’s passage.

Mr. Gimenez accused the president of making deliberately false statements leading up to and amid the swift Taliban takeover of the country, which has resulted in a scramble to evacuate U.S. citizens and Afghan allies.

“If the President of the United States is not going to be straight with the American people, all while American lives are being left in Afghanistan at the mercy of the Taliban, then Congress has both the moral and constitutional obligation to demand accountability of any and all Biden Administration officials who deliberately put American lives at risk,” Mr. Gimenez said.

Among the co-signers of Mr. Gimenez’s resolution is Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney who was in office during the initial invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

“The American people deserve answers about how and why the Biden Administration went forward with this approach when it was clear that the fallout would jeopardize the safety of Americans still in Afghanistan, endanger our Afghan partners who have fought alongside us for two decades, and threaten our broader national security interests,” Ms. Cheney said. “This is a critical investigation and I urge my colleagues to support it so we can learn the truth about how this unfolded and ensure our country never makes such a catastrophic mistake again.”

House Republican leadership has recently distanced Ms. Cheney from the party for her accepting an appointment by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, to serve on the commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

While Republican lawmakers have remained most vocal on the withdrawal, Democrats too have been critical of the administration for certain decisions leading up to chaotic recent weeks in Kabul, and have called for administration officials to testify before Congress.

Mrs. Pelosi last week suggested that Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin would be compelled to testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, though the hearing has yet to be scheduled.

Other Democrats have been critical of the administration’s decision to adhere to a self-imposed deadline to remove the last remaining troops by Aug. 31 while the military is still working frantically to evacuate U.S. citizens and Afghan refugees.

Rep. Adam Schiff, California Democrat and chairman of the House intelligence committee, told reporters Monday that the administration should maintain its military presence in Afghanistan “as long as is necessary to get all U.S. persons out, and meet our moral and ethical obligation to our Afghan partners.”

Mr. Biden confirmed late Tuesday that the U.S. will adhere to the Aug. 31 deadline.

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