- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Senate Republicans are calling for a bipartisan select committee to investigate the troubled U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri and Rick Scott of Florida introduced legislation Tuesday to create a Joint Select Committee on Afghanistan composed of 12 members from both the House and Senate, which the lawmakers say would be modeled after the congressional inquiry into the Iran-Contra affair.

“The American people deserve answers and the Biden administration seems determined to prevent us from getting them,” Mr. Hawley said. “We need a select committee investigation and public hearings to get to the bottom of this debacle and hold officials accountable.”

The proposal for the select committee follows a series of congressional appearances by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and senior Pentagon officials — Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark A. Milley, and U.S. Central Command Commander Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie — to explain the chaotic Afghan endgame and the rapid fall of the U.S.-backed Kabul government to the Taliban.

Messrs. Hawley and Scott, like many of their Republican colleagues, have remained highly critical of President Biden’s handling of the withdrawal and argue that the Biden administration continues to buck accountability.

Last week, Mr. Hawley called specifically for Mr. Austin and Gen. Milley to step down during their testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“General, I think you should resign,” Mr. Hawley said during the hearing. “Secretary Austin, I think you should resign. I think this mission was a catastrophe. I think there is no other way to say it, and there has to be accountability. I respectfully submit it should begin with you.”

Lawmakers’ questioning and takeaways from the hearings have largely broken down among party lines, with Republicans remaining highly critical of the key decisions under the Biden administration leading up to the withdrawal and Democrats insisting that the failure of the two-decade war was a result of misguided policy through multiple administrations.

The lawmakers behind the new bill are aiming at the Biden administration specifically, which they say continues to “obscure the facts” surrounding the withdrawal.

“Last month, President Biden’s misguided and dangerous decisions in his botched withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan led to the United States’ most stunning, unforced and humiliating defeat in decades,” Mr. Scott said.

“Due to President Biden’s carelessness and failed leadership, 13 U.S. service members were lost, billions of dollars of U.S. military equipment was left for the Taliban, hundreds of American citizens were stranded behind enemy lines, and Afghanistan has been returned to the Taliban and now rests in the hands of the same terrorist-coddling extremists who ruled it on September 11, 2001,” he continued. “The world is now a more dangerous place and the American people are rightfully demanding answers.”

Five other Republicans — Sens. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Steve Daines of Montana and Mike Braun of Indiana — co-sponsored the bill.

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