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Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul questioned Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the Biden administration’s failure to project strength on the world stage inviting aggression from our adversaries. 


— As delivered — 

Chairman McCaul: “Thank you Mr. Secretary. Let me ask first, we, as you know, have been conducting an investigation to the Afghanistan withdrawal, and will be releasing a report of that in September. Will you commit to appearing before this committee for a hearing on Afghanistan? We’ve had the top brass of the Pentagon do so and I think the Gold Star families deserve that as well.”

Secretary Blinken: “Mr. Chairman, for the Gold Star families, for for the President, for me, [and] for everyone involved, we grieve with them — the losses they suffered, including over 20 years in Afghanistan, [and] we honor their their sacrifice. One of the ways we do that, of course, is by taking part in oversight, answering questions, [and] giving the American people the answers they deserve. We’ve engaged in in very good faith in this. I think, by our count, we facilitated transcribed interviews with 15 current or former…”

Chairman McCaul: “My time is limited, but it is that a yes?”

Secretary Blinken: “Mr. Chairman, I’ve appeared before this committee five times, including one time dedicated solely to Afghanistan, but every time taking questions on Afghanistan. That’s more than any of my recent predecessors have done.”

Chairman McCaul: “Well, we look forward to your testimony in September.”

Secretary Blinken: “Well, we can have our teams talk about that Mr. Chairman. Thank you.”

Chairman McCaul: “You testified for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday that you denounce the International Criminal Courts arrest warrants against Israel’s leaders and committed to working with Congress on a bipartisan basis to find an appropriate response. I’ve been working with the Speaker, the ranking member, and others in the Senate on potential proposed legislation to address this issue. Will you commit to working with this committee to find a bipartisan bill that would place meaningful sanctions on the International Criminal Court?”

Secretary Blinken: “Mr. Chairman, first, let me say again, that decision was totally wrong-headed, and any equivalence that it implied between Hamas and Israel and its leaders was shameful. We commit to engaging on a bipartisan basis and finding an appropriate response.”

Chairman McCaul: “Yeah, and I completely agree with you on that. Earlier this month, the president stated on CNN that if Israel conducted a major military operation in Rafah, “We’re not going to supply the weapons and artillery.” Is this still the Biden administration’s policy? What specific weapons do you plan to withhold beyond the 2,000 and 500 pound bombs?”

Secretary Blinken: “Well, first Mr. Chairman, no one’s done more than President Biden. No one will do more to make sure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself. He was there days after the attack on October 7th, the first president to go to Israel when it was at war and under attack. In the time after that, he made sure that we deployed resources and assets to deter any further aggression against Israel from other quarters, which was very much a threat.”

Chairman McCaul: “We all know the history. Are you planning to withhold more weapons?”

Secretary Blinken: “I am happy to get to that. It’s also important to note that when Iran conducted an unprecedented attack, a direct attack, for the first time.”

Chairman McCaul: “If Israel invades Rafah, will you withhold more weapons?”

Secretary Blinken: “We actively took part for the first time ever in Israel’s defense and rallied a coalition of countries.”

Chairman McCaul: “That doesn’t answer my question. Are you gonna withhold weapons?”

Secretary Blinken: “Now to come to your question Mr. Chairman.”

Chairman McCaul: “Okay.”

Secretary Blinken: “When it comes to Rafah, we’ve made known for a long time. Our concerns about a full-on military assault of Rafah [and] the damage that that could do to civilian population absent a clear and credible plan to protect it. Also to achieve the results that we and Israel both want, which is to deal effectively and durably with Hamas. And so in that context, particularly with regard to 2,000 pound bombs, which in a dense urban environment, can do terrible damage. We’ve been in discussions with Israel about that particular weapon and those discussions continue. Those were private discussions. It’s unfortunate that it leaked to the press, [but] it did. But those discussions continue in our concerns about a full on military assault and Rafah remain. We have other ways of dealing with the challenge posed by Hamas that we believe can be more effective and more durable.”

Chairman McCaul: “Okay, let me just ask you this. We didn’t find out about the withholding of weapons until we saw the President’s interview on CNN. Congress was never notified of this decision. We just marked up a bill out of committee that requires advanced notification if you decide to withhold more weapons from Israel. Which I would say was the intent of Congress when we passed the supplemental and when I approve these weapons, will you please give us advanced notification?”

Secretary Blinken: “Mr. Chairman, we’ve gone out of our way we’ve gone well, above and beyond in previewing for Congress proposed…”

Chairman McCaul: “I have no notification [n]or did anyone in this committee or Congress until we saw the President on CNN. That’s hardly an adequate way to notify Congress. Lastly, Ukraine. We have a really bad situation going on. As you know, this is a sanctuary zone that the Russians have created. What they’re doing is they’re lining up all their artillery, rockets, and missiles just across the Ukraine border that they then use to attack the Ukrainians. However, your administration and Jake Sullivan have restricted the arms use so that Ukraine cannot defend itself and fire back at Russia. That’s why I mandated the [Army Tactical Missile Systems] in the supplemental, the long range, short range, and the [M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems] that your administration is tying their hands behind their back — not unlike what you’re trying to do in Israel — will you change this policy so Ukraine can fight without one hand tied behind his back?

Secretary Blinken: “As you know, we’ve rallied 50 countries over the last two years to come to Ukraine’s defense to provide it with the weapons that needs to defend itself to push back against Russian aggression. When it comes to enabling endorsing attacks outside of Ukraine, that’s not something we’ve done, but Ukraine will have to make and will make its own decisions. And I want to make sure it gets the equipment that it needs.”

Chairman McCaul: “You know, Congress got them the equipment, and they thank you for implementing that. But Congress did not put restrictions on the use of these weapons. It’s Jake Sullivan and your administration that has put the restrictions on these weapons. And I talked to them, and this is not they cannot achieve victory with these restrictions that you, not the Congress, have placed on them and I hope you’ll take that back to the national security adviser and the National Security Council and change this policy decision that is very dangerous and damaging to the Ukraine [and] Ukrainian people. My time has expired.”