By CASEY HARPER
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – U.S. House Oversight Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., called out the Biden administration Tuesday, accusing it of skirting Congressional oversight in the aftermath of the deadly and chaotic withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in 2021.
The claim comes after the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko testified before Congress last month that American taxpayer dollars may be funding the Taliban.
“There are still major problems in Afghanistan that this committee should be alerted to,” Mr. Sopko testified.
The U.S. has appropriated about $2 billion for Afghanistan since the withdrawal.
“While I agree, and we all agree that Afghanistan faces a dire humanitarian and economic situation, it is critical that our assistance not be diverted by the Taliban,” Mr. Sopko said. “Unfortunately, as I sit here today, I cannot assure this committee or the American taxpayer that we are not currently funding the Taliban.”
Now, Mr. Sopko’s office says that the Biden administration is failing to cooperate in his oversight efforts even as those funds may be going to the Taliban.
Citing this problem, Rep. Comer sent a letter to Secretaries Antony Blinken, Lloyd Austin, Janet Yellen, and Administrator Samantha Power demanding they submit to oversight.
“SIGAR has notified the Committee on multiple occasions of the Department of State’s, the U.S. Agency for International Development’s, the Department of Defense’s, and the U.S. Department of Treasury’s refusals to cooperate with SIGAR’s ongoing evaluations,” the letter said. “This lack of cooperation is unacceptable. The Administration will neither avoid SIGAR’s important oversight work nor flout accountability to the American people for its catastrophic failures in Afghanistan,”
The Center Square reached out to each of these agencies but did not receive a request for comment in time for publication.
Large-scale federal funding programs normally see some fraud and abuse, but recently the levels of those unaccounted for funds going into the hands of wrongdoers has soared. For instance, as The Center Square previously reported, some estimate that $560 billion in federal taxpayer dollars were lost to fraudsters.
In this case though, instead of fraudsters, those funds could be going to militant terrorists that have actively worked to kill Americans, often successfully.
“As U.S. taxpayer dollars continue to assist the people of Afghanistan, it is imperative SIGAR’s mission remain unobstructed,” Rep. Comer’s letter said. “Congress has granted SIGAR authority to carry out this mission of providing whole-of-government oversight, and it is Congress’s authority alone to determine SIGAR’s jurisdiction and scope of mission.”