House Committee on Oversight and Reform Ranking Member James Comer (R-Ky.) spoke in favor of his amendment to H.R. 4350, National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2022. The amendment would direct the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) to investigate the withdrawal of U.S. and allied forces from Afghanistan with an emphasis on understanding what military equipment was left behind in Afghanistan, whether the Taliban have control of that equipment, and whether it is being moved or sold to third parties. In addition, SIGAR would also be directed to investigate the disposition of U.S. taxpayer funds provided to Afghanistan, and whether any Afghan government officials looted those funds or other U.S.-provided property.

“The Office of the Special Inspector General on Afghanistan Reconstruction has been one of the few candid voices on Afghanistan post-9/11. Known as SIGAR, that office has provided independent and objective oversight of the $145 billion provided by U.S. taxpayers to Afghanistan reconstruction for over a decade. The Special Inspector General has been particularly effective on my committee’s fundamental concern—How U.S. taxpayer dollars are spent and resources used. Unfortunately, SIGAR consistently found rampant corruption, waste, and fraud… The American People deserve an accurate assessment of the disposition of U.S. funds and property left in Afghanistan and SIGAR is the entity within the federal government best suited to the job. This Amendment should have garnered wide-spread bipartisan support. It is simple, straightforward, and necessary.”

Below are Ranking Member Comer’s full remarks as prepared:

Thank you, Chairman McGovern.

The Office of the Special Inspector General on Afghanistan Reconstruction has been one of the few candid voices on Afghanistan post-9/11.

Known as SIGAR, that office has provided independent and objective oversight of the $145 billion provided by U.S. taxpayers to Afghanistan reconstruction for over a decade. 

The Special Inspector General has been particularly effective on my committee’s fundamental concern—How U.S. taxpayer dollars are spent and resources used.

Unfortunately, SIGAR consistently found rampant corruption, waste, and fraud.  In the unclassified version of its last quarterly report to Congress issued on July 30, 2021, SIGAR provided a bleak and honest assessment, warning the Afghan government was facing an “existential crisis” in the wake of imminent U.S. withdrawal.

Unfortunately, this warning came to fruition after the Biden Administration’s disastrous withdrawal and the Taliban’s violent takeover.

And while I supported a withdrawal, I certainly never dreamed the Biden Administration would get it so wrong – stranding citizens and those with valid claims to come to America.

The American people spent over $145 billion on Afghanistan reconstruction efforts, in addition to $837 billion directly on warfighting. 

Those monetary amounts pale in comparison to the almost 2,500 American service members who lost their lives in Afghanistan, and over 20,000 military personnel who were wounded in action, not to mention approximately 66,000 Afghan national military and police officers who lost their lives as well. 

It is imperative that we understand the disposition of U.S. taxpayer funds and military equipment in Afghanistan.

The Biden Administration has no clue, and worse, appears to not care.  In the wake of the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Administration has been unable to account for the whereabouts of equipment, funds, and even more troublesome, stranded American citizens and green card holders.

Even without knowing the full extent to which military equipment fell into the hands of the Taliban, we do know that they now control innumerable M4 and M16 rifles and other advanced U.S. firearms, thousands of armored vehicles, communications equipment, night vision goggles, and even U.S. military aircraft and drones.

It has also been reported that Afghan government officials looted U.S. taxpayer funds from the country when they fled. 

Even President Ghani has been implicated in spiriting millions of dollars in cash out of the country.

He denies those reports and invites an investigation.  Well, my amendment would give him one.

The American People deserve an accurate assessment of the disposition of U.S. funds and property left in Afghanistan. 

And SIGAR is the entity within the federal government best suited to the job. My amendment would direct SIGAR to investigate the withdrawal of U.S. and allied forces from Afghanistan with an emphasis on understanding what military equipment was left behind in Afghanistan, whether the Taliban have control of that equipment, and whether it is being moved or sold to third parties.

SIGAR would also be directed to investigate the disposition of U.S. taxpayer funds provided to Afghanistan, and whether any Afghan government officials looted those funds or other U.S.-provided property when they fled the country.

The amendment directs SIGAR to submit progress reports on this withdrawal investigation to appropriate congressional committees – specifically the Committees on Appropriations, Armed Services, and Foreign Affairs – through its regular quarterly reports already required by law, and also to issue a final report at the conclusion of its investigation.

This Amendment should have garnered wide-spread bipartisan support. It is simple, straightforward, and necessary.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I yield back.

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