- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Sen. Josh Hawley pledged on Tuesday to hold up confirmation votes for all Pentagon or State Department nominees until key members of President Biden’s Cabinet resign over the Afghanistan pullout.

Mr. Hawley, Missouri Republican, issued the threat during a speech on the Senate floor when he introduced legislation honoring the 56 Missourians who died while deployed to Afghanistan.

He called for the resignations of Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.

He also said Mr. Biden should resign.

“Make no mistake, this president is a disgrace,” Mr. Hawley said. “His behavior is disgraceful. He has dishonored this country with his shameful leadership in this crisis and it is time for him to resign.”

For each nominee, unanimous consent of all senators is required to open the debate in the full chamber. If even one senator does not agree, a hold is placed on the nomination.

Mr. Hawley said he would not “consent to the nomination” of any nominee for the State or Defense departments until Mr. Blinken, Mr. Austin and Mr. Sullivan step down.

“Leaders take responsibility for their failures,” he said. “And the failure of these individuals, the failure of this administration has costs Americans their lives.”

There are approximately 81 State Department and 12 Department of Defense nominees pending in the Senate.

Mr. Hawley‘s pledge comes on Mr. Blinken’s second day of testimony before Congress, which underscored the bitter partisan divide over who to fault for the chaotic withdraw from Afghanistan.

Lawmakers’ questions on Monday and Tuesday largely reflected party affiliations: Infuriated Republicans grilled Mr. Blinken on key decisions leading up the pullout, while Democrats often defended Mr. Biden’s decision to end the war, deflecting blame to former President Donald Trump for the peace deal he signed with the Taliban in February 2020.

Mr. Blinken, too, blamed Mr. Trump.

Senior Pentagon leaders are slated to testify before the Senate Armed Services Committee in a series of open and closed briefings and hearings.

While the Pentagon has been spared much of the vitriol from GOP lawmakers, they have not completely escaped the political fallout from Afghanistan.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee Republican, called on both Mr. Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley to resign.

“There must be accountability,” Mr. Hawley said. “And then there must be a new start.”

• Joseph Clark can be reached at jclark@washingtontimes.com.

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