Live updates: Antony Blinken faces a second showdown with Congress on the withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken will testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, following his House hearing on the United States’ exit from Afghanistan on Monday.
Republican lawmakers chastised Blinken on Monday for a mission that was “fatally defective and poorly executed,” resulting in the deaths of 13 US service members and the displacement of hundreds of American residents and Afghan allies.
Several members demanded that Blinken step down. Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York, a Republican, added, “That would be leadership.”
Blinken defended the State Department’s and President Joe Biden’s actions during the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, which concluded the country’s 20-year commitment.
“President Biden was confronted with the alternative of stopping the war or increasing it,” he stated, saying that when Biden took office in January 2021, Taliban fighters already had a considerable foothold in Afghanistan.
“Attacks on our soldiers, as well as our friends, would have continued if he had not followed through on his predecessor’s commitment,” he said.
Staying in Afghanistan longer would not have “made the Afghan security forces or the Afghan government any more resilient or self-sustaining,” according to Blinken.
The Secretary of State and some Democratic lawmakers blamed the Trump administration for negotiating the deal with the Taliban, which released 5,00 Taliban captives and pushed out President Biden’s original May 1 deadline to August 31.
Blinken told the Committee, “We inherited a deadline; we didn’t inherit a plan.”
During the hearing, Illinois Republican Representative Adam Kinzinger argued that while the Trump administration “failed in the setup,” the Biden administration “certainly failed in the execution.”
At 10 a.m. ET, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a hearing.
Throughout the hearing, this article will be updated.