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Press Release Published: Mar 16, 2021

Grothman: We must effectively track and manage American taxpayer funding in Afghanistan

Subcommittee hearing examines Afghanistan’s reconstruction efforts

WASHINGTON – Subcommittee on National Security Ranking Member Glenn Grothman (R-Wis.) opened today’s hearing with Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko by emphasizing President Trump spearheaded successful efforts to reduce U.S. armed forces in Afghanistan and negotiated an unprecedented peace agreement which will help create a safe and prosperous Afghanistan. 

In his opening statement, Subcommittee Ranking Member Grothman notes the American taxpayer has sent almost one trillion dollars to Afghanistan either supporting combat or reconstruction. As the United States works toward reducing our military footprint and bringing American troops home, he concludes Congress must operate in a bipartisan manner to provide critical oversight of these taxpayer investments in the region. 

Below are Subcommittee Ranking Member Grothman’s remarks as prepared.

I want to first thank Chairman Lynch for holding this hearing and Mr. Sopko for being with us today.

Your continued efforts to oversee billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars is commendable and necessary. 

This year will be the twentieth anniversary of United States being attacked by al-Qaeda on September 11, 2001.

Those brutal and unprecedented attacks took the lives of nearly 3,000 innocent Americans in New York, Pennsylvania, and at the Pentagon.

Days later, on October 7, the United States launched Operation Enduring Freedom and invaded Afghanistan leading to the toppling of the Taliban’s terrorist regime.

The United States has had a presence in Afghanistan ever since. 

Unfortunately, every time we meet to discuss ongoing efforts in Afghanistan, the same issues come up.

To date, the American taxpayer has sent almost one trillion dollars to Afghanistan either supporting combat or reconstruction.

In America’s longest war, we are just starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel. 

President Trump reduced the American footprint in Afghanistan from over 100,000 during the Obama Administration to just a few thousand. 

On February 29, 2020, under the strong leadership of President Trump, the United States signed a peace agreement to gradually withdraw Americans from Afghanistan. 

This agreement will help to create a safe and prosperous Afghanistan by ensuring that it will not provide safe harbor to terrorists. 

Now I understand and will be the first to admit that just packing our bags and leaving is dangerous.

That type of withdrawal will create a vacuum for terrorism and potentially set back the social and governmental gains in Afghanistan. 

What I do believe is that it should be our goal to reduce our global military footprint and bring troops home. 

Your report highlights numerous issues that we must take very seriously including:

  • Endemic corruption;
  • Illicit narcotics;
  • Increasing insecurity; and
  • Inadequate oversight.

Each of these issues hinders the ability to effectively track and manage American taxpayer funding in Afghanistan. 

This is an issue at the heart of this Committee’s jurisdiction. 

We must continue to work together to ensure that we know where investments go and to make sure they are spent on legal activities. 

I hope that will be a bipartisan goal.