Secretary of State Antony Blinken can expect the most aggressive questioning of his career when he testifies before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Monday and the Senate Foreign Relations on Tuesday.
why it matters: Republicans see the hearing as their first opportunity to confront a top-ranked Biden official directly about the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan. Democrats see this as a moment in which they must reject GOP efforts to blame President Biden for 20 years of bipartisan wrongdoing.
big picture: We spoke to MPs and staff about what they wanted to ask.
Republicans say they will demand To know how many Americans and allies are trapped in Afghanistan, following the latest evacuations and continuing obstacles – and how specifically America is planning to take them out.
- They want to know the specific details of people who have been evicted (special visa holders, “at risk” persons, etc.) and the vetting process for crushes of evicted people.
- Expect them to raise concerns about exiled criminals or members of terrorist watch lists – and to cite the woe in particular. AP story About a “child bride” trafficked to America during the chaos.
- They will use US military gear to grab Blinken and viral images of Taliban fighters flying Black Hawk helicopters to see how the US will deal with an arsenal now controlled by the Taliban. Pentagon says equipment left at Kabul airport was “demilitarized” and “unusable”, but it’s clear This is not the case in the whole country.
If and how the US recognizes the Taliban The government now questions a key that a caretaker cabinet has been formed in Afghanistan – with the leader of an al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani network and an FBI-wanted terrorist as interior minister.
- GOP members will highlight the administration’s undermining of ties to Taliban terrorist networks and its reliance on the Taliban for security support. They will pressure Blinken to stop the Taliban from ever entering over $9 billion In the frozen Afghan wealth in the US financial system.
On the other end: Democrats will point to the peace deal the Trump administration negotiated with the Taliban and cite Donald Trump own pride In June: “I started the process, all the soldiers are coming home. [Biden] Couldn’t stop the process.”
- “My No. 1 question for Secretary Blinken: Can you now describe to us the detailed and well-thought-out plan prepared by the Trump administration for how we will get out of Afghanistan in an orderly manner?” Rep. Brad Sherman (D-California) told Nerdshala in an interview.
- “Let’s face it, this mission was risky, because there’s no way to escape without creating a stampede, and there’s no way for a stampede that’s orderly and meritorious,” he said.
- A Democratic source told Nerdshala that Republicans are “making it as Benghazi as possible.” The source said that as Democrats see it, “this is not January 6. This is a test of American policy toward the country in the 20-year war.”
For the record: State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement that Blinken has “prioritized engagement with Congress since his first days in office”, including recent Afghanistan briefings and calls, and that he “appreciates the opportunity to testify.” “