The top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday asked the State Department for a slew of documents related to the Biden administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, marking the official start of the Republican-led committee’s recent investigation into the chaotic exit.
Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, gave the department a January 26 deadline to respond. He threatened subpoena power if the department did not comply.
“It is imperative that the State Department provide full responses to these long-running requests, and the committee will not tolerate continued delay,” McCaul wrote to Secretary of State Tony Blinken in a letter reviewed by CNN. In the event of non-compliance, the Commission will use the powers at its disposal to enforce such requests as necessary, including through coercive measures.
The Afghanistan investigation into withdrawing from Afghanistan in 2021 is just one of many investigations into the Biden administration that House Republicans have begun to push forward.
McCall, in the 10-page letter, asked for a list of all the interagency meetings related to the walkout that occurred during the Biden administration. He also requested information on all meetings with the Taliban since January 2021.
In addition to researching the planning that went into the withdrawal process and the withdrawal process, the letter makes it clear that the committee is interested in investigating the after effects of withdrawal.
Questions include: “What are the administration’s intentions to cancel and/or reprogram foreign assistance to Afghanistan?” and “What is the current US government’s relationship with the Taliban?” and “What is the processing status of SIV, P1, and P2 visa applications?”
McCaul and his fellow Republicans on the committee sent the administration at least three requests for similar information last year. But during that time McCall was in the minority and the ministry did not provide the requested information.
Republicans on the committee moved forward with a report on the withdrawal last year, although they did not have access to the documents or interviews with State Department officials. But now that Republicans are a majority in the House of Representatives, they have more power to wield power and can legally require the administration to give them the information.
Officials said a small group of State Department officials began planning the next investigation in Afghanistan last year.
McCaul and Blinken started out on friendly terms, with both sides describing their meeting at the State Department earlier in the week as productive.
“It’s been a really constructive — at least in our view — successful engagement with the president,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said Thursday. “Engaging yesterday with President McCaul was the beginning of that engagement with the 118th Congress, but we expect more to come.”
When asked if the department would comply with requests for documents related to the withdrawal from Afghanistan, Price avoided strict compliance. In general, Price said, the Biden administration believes in the usefulness and necessity of congressional functions.
Price said: “We look forward to continuing our engagement with this Congress in those areas that are important to them and most importantly are a priority for the American people.”
The State Department conducted its own review of the withdrawal from Afghanistan last year, but the department has not yet published its findings widely. Sources told CNN the report ended more than 10 months ago.