A handful of Republican senators publicly accused the Biden administration this week of blowing a deadline to submit a report to Congress on the vetting of thousands of Afghan evacuees during the botched US military withdrawal from Afghanistan in August.
Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Monday that Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas was required by law to submit the report by the end of November.
“The report requested by Congress on the composition and vetting of the more than 78,000 #Afghans evacuated by US forces is more than a month delayed,” tweeted Risch. “We need answers, but more than anything, we need @DHSgov to fully cooperate.”
Risch — along with fellow Republicans Rob Portman of Ohio, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, James Inhofe of Oklahoma, Richard Shelby of Alabama and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia — called the delay “unacceptable” in a Dec. 22 letter to Mayorkas, which was also made public Monday.
“Congress mandated this report include the immigration status of Afghan evacuees located here in the United States and at overseas bases of US Armed Forces, including any evacuees ’flagged as potential security risks or concerns,’” the lawmakers wrote.
“This information is necessary for Congress to perform its constitutional oversight duties, which include an understanding of the composition of the Afghan evacuee population located in the United States and any potential national security concerns,” it said.
The report was mandated as part of a stopgap funding package President Biden signed into law at the end of September in order to avert a partial government shutdown.
Republican lawmakers have repeatedly raised questions about the vetting of Afghans without Special Immigrant Visas who were sent to a number of military bases in the US, warning that potential terrorists have been allowed to enter the country.
The Afghanistan evacuation operation devolved into chaos after the Taliban marched into the capital Kabul on Aug. 15 and seized power.
In the following days, Afghans crowded the streets leading to Hamid Karzai International Airport in a last-ditch effort to escape Islamist rule.
The resulting mayhem gave cover to an ISIS-K terrorist who set off a suicide bomb on Aug. 26, killing 13 American service members and scores of Afghans.
Republicans have accused the administration of abandoning American citizens and thousands of Afghan allies amid the chaos.