Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) have introduced bipartisan legislation that would guarantee congressional oversight in the Afghan peace process.
The legislation requires U.S. diplomatic peace efforts try to achieve a political solution to the conflict in Afghanistan, and any agreement that emerges from that process be guided by congressional oversight.
“The Ensuring a Durable Afghanistan Peace Act of 2019 highlights the necessity of monitoring and verifying Taliban compliance with their commitments under an eventual peace agreement, including assurance that Afghanistan will not be used as a platform for international terrorism,” Young said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, like other war powers discussions, Congress has taken a backseat in the debate over the future of our mission in Afghanistan while the conflict has descended towards a stalemate. This bipartisan legislation aims to change that. As we pursue negotiations with the Taliban and work to end our involvement, Congress must be a part of the process to ensure that our mission is brought to a responsible end,” said Young.
He added: “Our mission in Afghanistan has stretched on for 18 years and is the longest military operation in United States history. The costs of this war are significant with over 2,200 American service members giving their lives and more than 20,000 service members being wounded.”
The legislation supports peace efforts with the Taliban, supports the economic, social, and political progress that Afghanistan has made since 2011, and requires that any action to reduce or remove U.S. military forces include regular congressional consultations.
“There is no question it is time for a significant and sustained reduction of American troops in Afghanistan. Similarly, the way in which we draw down this military operation is critical so that Afghanistan does not descend into chaos,” said Menendez in the statement.
“This bipartisan effort is in line with the administration’s goals to achieve a political end to the war in a responsible manner, and also seeks to protect the hard fought gains made for the rights of Afghan women and minorities. Afghanistan can never again become a platform for terrorist attacks against the United States or our allies. This is exactly why Congress must assert its oversight authority in the event that the Trump administration restarts negotiations with the Taliban,” said Menendez.
The legislation requires that the administration transmit the final agreement with the Taliban to Congress, corroborating that the Taliban are complying with the peace agreement, and that Congress get a report within 60 days confirming that the Taliban and Haqqani Network have broken with al-Qaeda and are keeping with the terms of the ceasefire.
The bill also requires a quarterly report to Congress that would assess whether the key elements of the peace agreement are being honored. The report would need to include an assessment of compliance by Taliban, the status of human rights of women and minorities in the country, and a description of the rule of law, including the status of the press, following the peace deal.