A symbolic attempt by House Republicans to bring forward a bill to demand answers of President Joe Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan was blocked in the House on Tuesday.
Rep. Mike Gallagher, a Wisconsin Republican and Marine veteran who served in Iraq, attempted to bring the bill for consideration during a pro forma session of the House.
The bill includes a request for a plan from the administration on how they will bring the remaining estimated more than 100 Americans in Afghanistan home, an accounting of all the equipment left behind, and transparency on any deals or agreements made by the Biden administration with the Taliban. It also states that it is the sense of Congress that the Taliban should not be recognized as the government of Afghanistan and would place a prohibition on any support or assistance to the Taliban.
The House is not scheduled to return to floor activity until Sept. 20. During congressional recesses, pro forma sessions consist of gaveling in and out within minutes or seconds in order to fulfill technical requirements and aims.
More than 30 House Republicans gathered on the House Floor on Tuesday. After a moment of silence for the 13 service members who lost their lives in an ISIS-K bombing last week, they attempted recognition by the chairman, who gaveled out without acknowledging them.
“How can you not read the names?” one member yelled. Another exclaimed: “Turn your back on our country.”
Republicans had expected the bill to be blocked on Tuesday but hope that bipartisan support can grow for the bill as they start on a variety of actions to hold the Biden administration accountable for the chaotic withdrawal that included the deaths of 13 U.S. service members and more than 100 Afghans after an ISIS-K suicide bombing last week.
"Now is not the time to act like you could not see us on the floor," House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said in a press conference after the attempt. "Now is not the time to hide. We are a co-equal branch."
Gallagher took aim at White House chief of staff Ron Klain for "retweeting progressive journalists and creating an echo chamber,” saying that the situation in Afghanistan “isn't a news cycle to be managed.”
“I can't believe Secretary [of State Antony] Blinken is even toying with the idea that these illegitimate terrorists could ever be recognized as a government,” Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw added.
Republicans are also planning other accountability actions.
The next opportunity is a committee markup session for the annual spending bill that funds the U.S. Military, the National Defense Authorization Act. Proposed Republican amendments include requiring an accounting of what equipment was left behind, an explanation for why Bagram Air Base was abandoned, and regular congressional briefings on the groups that will form because of the withdrawal.
McCarthy unsuccessfully pushed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week to consider a previous version of Gallagher’s bill, when the House was in session for two days in order to pass voting rights, infrastructure, and spending legislation.
The previous version of Gallagher’s bill would have prohibited withdrawing troops from Afghanistan until all Americans were evacuated, regardless of Biden’s stated Aug. 31 deadline.
The last troops left Afghanistan Monday, a minute before the clock struck midnight on Aug. 31 in Kabul, Afghanistan.
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Original Author: Emily Brooks