House Dems Block Afghanistan Withdrawal Transparency Bill

Bill would force White House to disclose 'any agreements between the United States and the Taliban'

Rep. Mike Gallagher (R., Wis.) gives opening remarks at hearing with the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Cyber, Innovative Technologies, and Information System in the Rayburn House Office Building on May 14, 2021 in Washington, DC. / Getty Images
August 31, 2021

House Democrats on Tuesday blocked a GOP bill that would ensure transparency on President Joe Biden's botched Afghanistan withdrawal and prohibit U.S. support to the Taliban.

The Afghanistan Withdrawal Oversight and Liability Act, authored by Rep. Mike Gallagher (R., Wis.), would require Biden to submit withdrawal reports to Congress, including one that details how many Americans remain in Afghanistan and another that discloses "any agreements between the United States and the Taliban." When House Republicans submitted a unanimous consent request to consider the bill, however, Democratic leadership shot it down.

"We tried to introduce new legislation today to do whatever is necessary to save our citizens that President Biden left behind in Afghanistan, to make sure that we are not paying ransom to terrorists, to make sure that Congress has a full account of the billions of dollars worth of equipment we left behind, and to make sure that we are not—as the administration is hinting at right now—going to recognize the Taliban government going forward," Gallagher said during a Tuesday press conference. "When I asked unanimous consent to do that on the floor a few minutes ago, I was gaveled down."

The move comes just weeks after Biden waived a mandate that would have compelled his administration to provide a report to Congress about the risks of leaving Afghanistan. Biden dropped the mandate in June, arguing that disclosing the information to Congress could undermine "the national security interests of the United States."

Some vulnerable House Democrats have scrambled to distance themselves from Biden's Afghanistan withdrawal. Rep. Susan Wild (D., Pa.), for example, said last week the evacuation "has been egregiously mishandled" and called on Congress to "secure answers from the Biden administration about what went wrong." 

But others have echoed Biden's talking points to praise the withdrawal. Rep. Charlie Crist (D., Fla.), who is running to unseat GOP governor Ron DeSantis, called the evacuation effort "incredible" in a Monday statement.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R., Texas) said on Tuesday the GOP will "investigate" Biden's Afghanistan withdrawal "with or without" Democrats. According to House Armed Services Committee ranking member Rep. Mike Rogers (R., Ala.), Gallagher intends to "bring up all components of his resolution" during a committee markup session tomorrow morning.

Update 2:15 p.m.: This piece has been updated.