Representatives Crow and Cheney Introduce Bipartisan Afghanistan Oversight Bill
Today Representatives Jason Crow (D-CO-06) and Liz Cheney (R-WY-AL), joined by Representatives Susan Davis (D-CA-53) and Michael Waltz (R-FL-06), introduced the Afghanistan Partnership and Transparency Act. The bipartisan bill ensures that any drawdown of troops from Afghanistan is subject to thorough congressional oversight, including as it relates to U.S. national security, protections for vulnerable populations, and a commitment to forging a lasting diplomatic peace for the Afghan people. The bill comes as reports circulate that the Trump administration has begun working with the Pentagon on possible options for withdrawal ahead of the timeline laid out in the February 29th peace agreement.
Crow, a former Army Ranger who served two combat tours in Afghanistan, recently led a congressional delegation to Afghanistan in October 2019. During the visit, Crow and delegation members met with Afghan ministers and visited troops and bases with General Scott Miller, commander of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission and United States Forces in Afghanistan.
In introducing the bill, Crow said “I served in Afghanistan and I know firsthand what makes the U.S. military the strongest in the world, but I also know the limitations of military power. If there was a military solution to the war in Afghanistan, we would’ve found it long ago. The war in Afghanistan must end, but we must do so in a way that ensures lasting peace. The world is watching to see whether America keeps its promises. This bill is transformative in its ability to ensure that we keep our promise - to the women and children of Afghanistan, to our partners and allies in peacekeeping, and to a safer, and more secure world order.”
“The al Qaeda-allied Taliban continues to wage deadly attacks across Afghanistan, al Qaeda leaders continue to find safe haven there from which to plot attacks, and the Islamic State continues to conduct active operations there. America’s troop presence in Afghanistan is critical to ensuring the safety of the American people at home—but the U.S.-Taliban deal allows for premature troop withdrawal that is not conditions-based. This legislation will help ensure that Congress and the American people are fully informed about America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan and the impact it is having and will have on our security,” said Cheney.
“A successful withdrawal from Afghanistan can be achieved if there are clear criteria for conditions on the ground to determine that success. Congress and the American people must know that those conditions have been met and Afghanistan will be able to meet its security needs in order to prosper into the future,” said Davis.
“As a Green Beret and veteran of the War on Terror, my duty was to protect America from terrorist threats and the Taliban that gave them safe harbor to operate within Afghanistan – and I know they are still intent on harming Americans and destabilizing the region. Extremism still lingers in Afghanistan, where many terrorists remain, plotting their next deadly move. Withdrawing American troops prematurely could open the door for a re-escalation of violence and could be a step backwards for the hard-fought gains made for women, religious minorities and regional stability. This is why Congress and the American people must be fully aware of the impacts of troop withdrawal on our national security,” said Waltz.
The Afghanistan Partnership and Transparency Act:
- Requires the Administration to submit a comprehensive, interagency (Department of Defense, Department of State, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence) report and certification in order to draw down U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan below two separate troop levels: 8,000 and 5,000. The report and certification requirement include elements that require assessments of:
- U.S. national security implications;
- Relationship between the Taliban and al Qaeda (and affiliates);
- Effect on allies and partners working in support of the U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization-led missions;
- Impact on human rights and civil rights, particularly for vulnerable populations; and
- Influence of malign state actors on Afghan sovereignty.
- Requires that these reports be provided with limited classification controls to ensure maximum transparency with the American people.
- Requires the Secretary of Defense to submit a detailed written justification to Congress if the Secretary uses the waiver authority pertaining to either an extraordinary threat to U.S. personnel or for interests vital to U.S. national security.
- Provides a Sense of Congress that details the U.S. commitment to ensuring Afghanistan does not provide safe harbor to terrorists, provides human rights and civil rights protections for vulnerable populations, and achieves lasting peace.
Copy of the bill text can be found here.