The Afghanistan Accountability Act of 2015, introduced by U.S. Senator Bob Menendez, unanimously passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today. The legislation is co-sponsored by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker and Senator Marco Rubio.
The bill seeks to promote increased accountability for U.S. assistance in Afghanistan, while supporting programs that strengthen Afghan institutions tasked with combatting corruption. With Afghanistan experiencing ongoing security and political transitions, this legislation seeks to ensure that continued U.S. investments pay the greatest development dividends.
“Though Afghanistan stands at a crossroads, the National Unity Government is confronting the nation’s challenges head on by demonstrating an important commitment to accountability and good governance,” Menendez said. “This bill ensures the United States will take additional steps to bolster the capacity of Afghan institutions so that they can be more accountable and responsive to the country’s citizens and international donors. America has made tremendous sacrifices in Afghanistan – too many lives were lost and vast resources were spent. Our hard fought gains cannot be reversed. We must provide the right tools to the Afghan government to make sure our investments are used wisely going forward.”
The legislation includes the following elements:
• Calls on the Secretary of State to develop a multi-year strategy to promote accountability in Afghanistan with other U.S. government agencies and in collaboration with the Government of Afghanistan;
• Authorizes funds to support Afghan government anti-corruption and audit institutions as well as civil society and human rights watchdog groups;
• Authorizes funds to improve oversight and accountability of the Afghan National Security Forces (including the police) and civil society watchdog groups;
• Authorizes the transfer of funds for Afghanistan to be used in neighboring countries as needed to promote regional economic integration;
• Requires a report by GAO on long term development programming conducted by the U.S. military, ways to improve coordination between the U.S. development agencies and the U.S. military and on Commander’s Emergency Response Program; and
• Requires an annual report on potential cases of corruption by Afghan Government officials or their relatives.
Last year, as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Menendez issued a Democratic-authored report, titled: “Afghanistan in Transition: The U.S. Civilian Presence and Assistance Post-2014.”
The report examined the development challenges in Afghanistan following the recent political transition and offers a series of recommendations for U.S. assistance approach and civilian presence.
Senator Menendez traveled to Afghanistan in 2013.