WASHINGTON (NewsNation) — The Republican-led House Foreign Affairs Committee began examining President Joe Biden‘s role in the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan during a hearing Wednesday on Capitol Hill.
The hearing — and those that follow — will zero in on one of the most dramatic months of the Biden presidency. While Biden allies tout the largest evacuation in history as a success despite inheriting difficult circumstances and a deal brokered by the prior administration, the GOP has cast the event as nothing short of a disaster.
The withdrawal left Afghanistan under the control of the Taliban and 13 U.S. Marines died. Republicans blame the Biden administration for what they said was a botched process, even though Democrats claimed former President Donald Trump negotiated the removal.
This hearing serves as a scene-setter for why some lawmakers believe this investigation remains needed. Committee members will hear accounts from veterans who served there.
Former Green Beret Scott Mann, one of those veterans, served three tours in Afghanistan and founded Task Force Pineapple, which is made up of fellow veterans who volunteered to help evacuate Afghan allies from the country after it fell to the Taliban.
Mann told NewsNation the withdrawal was disorganized, sharing details about the 13 Americans who died in a suicide attack while some Afghan allies were left stranded. He said the issue goes beyond politics.
With some Afghans still in hiding from the Taliban and veterans continuing to deal with mental wounds from the war — like PTSD — every day, Mann hopes Congress hears the calls for help.
“Everybody should just own their part of it. You know, the same thing we teach our kids to do take personal responsibility for your actions and figure out what went wrong,” Mann said.
He continued, “I just hope that they’ll take a page from what the veterans did in this whole thing, and set politics aside to hear our stories. And then lean in and take meaningful action.”
The committee, led by Chairman Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), will oversee the investigation.
“What happened in Afghanistan was a systemic breakdown of the federal government at every level – and a stunning failure of leadership by the Biden administration,” McCaul told NewsNation.
House Democrats on this committee are expected to bring up how Trump brokered the deal with the Taliban to set the stage for the withdrawal. But Mann pointed out that this war lasted through four presidents of both political parties and he looks forward to speaking to lawmakers on the issue.
The United Nations said since the takeover by the Taliban, Afghanistan has become the most repressive country in the world for women and girls. The U.N. said the Taliban deprives them of basic rights and has almost put a focus on “leaving most women and girls effectively trapped in their homes.”
NewsNation affiliate The Hill and NewsNation writer Devan Markham contributed to this report.