Democrats may hand GOP a 2022 election gift: hearings on Biden's 'flawed' Afghan exit

Biden's approval rating has dipped to the lowest point of his presidency, as at least three Democratic-led congressional committees vow investigations into 'horrifying' blunders exiting Afghanistan.

Updated: August 18, 2021 - 9:49am

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President Joe Biden is facing bipartisan backlash over the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan ahead of the 2022 midterm elections as lawmakers from both parties call for an investigation into his administration's handling of the U.S. withdrawal. 

Democrats vowed "tough questions" Tuesday as they used words like "flawed," "failures" and "horrifying" to describe the administration's exit strategy and the scenes unfolding in Kabul.

The president, for his part, is not changing course and vows to complete a full withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Afghanistan. But he now faces the specter of his own party investigating his team's conduct and competence in the shadows of a 2022 election where control of Congress is up for grabs. 

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, previewed Democrats' sentiments by acknowledging the administration seemed ill-prepared for the rapid fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban, an extremist group the U.S. spent two decades fighting to keep from power.

"I hope to work with the other committees of jurisdiction to ask tough but necessary questions about why we weren’t better prepared for a worst-case scenario involving such a swift and total collapse of the Afghan government and security forces," Warner said in a statement. "We owe those answers to the American people and to all those who served and sacrificed so much.”

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, minced few words in announcing his panel's inquiry.

“In implementing this flawed plan, I am disappointed that the Biden administration clearly did not accurately assess the implications of a rapid U.S. withdrawal. We are now witnessing the horrifying results of many years of policy and intelligence failures,” Menendez said in a statement.

"The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will continue fulfilling its oversight role with a hearing on U.S. policy towards Afghanistan, including the Trump administration’s flawed negotiations with Taliban, and the Biden administration’s flawed execution of the U.S. withdrawal," he added.

Senate House Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed, D-R.I., said his members would focus their inquiry on the administration's "failures of intelligence, diplomacy and a lack of imagination."

Republicans from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to the Republican National Committee relished the possibility Democrats would take on their own president with oversight hearings, clearly ready to make the Afghan debacle a central issue in 2022.

The RNC posted a video on social media showing Biden's National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan saying the administration was "clear-eyed” in knowing the Taliban could takeover the country after the U.S. withdraw and contrasted it with Biden's statement in July that it was unlikely a takeover would occur. 

The RNC is also sharing video of other Democrats, including former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, warning that a Taliban-controlled Afghanistan would provide a safe haven for Al-Qaeda, the terrorist group responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Biden's approval rating has dropped to its lowest point of his presidency as the security situation in Afghanistan continues to decline. For the first time, his disapproval was higher than his approval ratings.

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