The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee threatened to subpoena Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin after he refused to appear before the committee to testify about the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Sen. Bob Menendez: “I’m very disappointed that Secretary Austin declined our request to testify today… I expect the secretary will avail himself to the committee in the near future. And if he does not, I may consider the use of committee subpoena power to compel him.” pic.twitter.com/6T5DXIYRqD
— The Hill (@thehill) September 14, 2021
Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., the chairman of the committee, made the comment during a hearing on Tuesday while Secretary of State Antony Blinken was giving his testimony about President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw from the region.
Menendez said he was disappointed Austin declined to show up alongside Blinken, adding that his refusal to voluntarily testify “will affect my personal judgment on Department of Defense nominees.”
“I expect the secretary will avail himself to the committee in the near future,” Menendez continued. “And if he does not, I may consider the use of committee subpoena power to compel him.”
Before Blinken’s testimony, Menendez also argued Biden’s withdrawal “was clearly and fatally flawed.”
Democrat Senator Bob Menendez says the Biden administration “clearly fell short” when withdrawing from Afghanistan pic.twitter.com/tISKrAX3Su
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) September 14, 2021
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby responded to Mendendez’s threat by claiming Austin had “conflicting commitments” that made his appearance before the committee “impracticable.”
“He greatly respects the oversight role of the Congress, and he looks forward to testifying at the end of this month before the Senate and House Armed Services Committees,” Kirby added.
The Biden administration is facing enormous criticism for its decision to leave Afghanistan before all American citizens and legal residents could depart the country.
Blinken admitted during his testimony on Tuesday that thousands of legal green card holders were still trying to escape Afghanistan.