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Republicans plan barrage of NDAA amendments on Afghanistan

GOP has criticized Biden’s handling of U.S. withdrawal

House Republicans hold a roundtable discussion Monday at the Capitol Visitor Center on the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in the Capitol Visitor Center. Pictured from left, Rep. Brian Mast of Florida, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Reps. Mark E. Green of Tennessee, Daniel Crenshaw of Texas, Jim Banks of Indiana and Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin.
House Republicans hold a roundtable discussion Monday at the Capitol Visitor Center on the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in the Capitol Visitor Center. Pictured from left, Rep. Brian Mast of Florida, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Reps. Mark E. Green of Tennessee, Daniel Crenshaw of Texas, Jim Banks of Indiana and Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee said Monday the GOP has more than 50 amendments that seek to address the shortcomings Republicans see in the Biden administration’s handling of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

“We want to find out what happened to the equipment that was left behind. We want to know why specifically Bagram was abandoned,” Alabama Rep. Mike D. Rogers said, referring to U.S. military equipment left by U.S. troops that ended up in the possession of the Taliban, the Afghan political movement now running the country, and why the U.S. decided to leave Bagram Air Base in July.

“The president and his State Department drove that decision, not the military,” Rogers said, contradicting President Joe Biden’s explanation.

Rogers, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and other House Republicans, some of whom served in Afghanistan, gathered Monday — the day the U.S. ended its ground presence in America’s longest war, which stretched nearly 20 years — to criticize Biden’s handling of the pullout.

“We’re going to use every legislative possibility to make this case,” McCarthy said of the GOP’s strategy.

The Armed Services Committee will begin its markup of the NDAA on Wednesday and Rogers previewed several amendments the GOP wants in the bill. He said there would be a “vigorous debate” and predicted the measure would move out of committee on Thursday with a $25 billion increase over Biden’s proposed Pentagon budget. 

“We created a $250 million counterterrorism fund. We want to know what the security impacts are for letting the ISIS-K terrorists out,” Rogers said of one of the amendments Republicans plan to offer targeting the group allegedly responsible for attacking Kabul’s airport last week, leaving scores of Afghans and 13 U.S. troops dead.

Republicans will also try to mandate regular briefings on what terrorist groups are active in Afghanistan after the U.S. evacuation. Other amendments will call on Biden to develop a counterterrorism plan for Afghanistan, decipher what intelligence the Defense Department shared with the Taliban, and require the administration to designate the Taliban as a foreign terrorist organization.

John M. Donnelly contributed to this report.

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