Republicans Have Created Their Benghazi Select Committee. Now What?

The House approved the special panel, with little Democratic support.

Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, answers questions during his weekly news conference on Capitol Hill, May 8, 2014 in Washington, D.C.
National Journal
Sarah Mimms and Elahe Izadi
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Sarah Mimms and Elahe Izadi
May 8, 2014, 2:30 p.m.

It’s of­fi­cial: The House has its Benghazi se­lect com­mit­tee, ap­proved along party lines 232-186.

The en­tire Re­pub­lic­an con­fer­ence voted Thursday even­ing to cre­ate the com­mit­tee, with just sev­en Demo­crats join­ing them. Demo­crats vot­ing in fa­vor of the cre­ation were Geor­gia’s John Bar­row, North Car­o­lina’s Mike McIntyre, Flor­ida’s Patrick Murphy, Min­nesota’s Col­lin Peterson, West Vir­gin­ia’s Nick Ra­hall, and Ari­zona’s Kyrsten Sinema and Ron Barber.

The new pan­el comes after nu­mer­ous hear­ings were held by four oth­er House com­mit­tees in­vest­ig­at­ing the Sept. 11, 2012, at­tacks in Libya that left four Amer­ic­ans dead, in­clud­ing U.S. Am­bas­sad­or Chris Stevens.

House Speak­er John Boehner has pre­vi­ously said a se­lect com­mit­tee was un­ne­ces­sary, but that changed with the re­lease of an email that had been sent by White House Deputy Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Ad­viser Ben Rhodes to then-United Na­tions Am­bas­sad­or Susan Rice. The email, which sug­gests the White House played a role in shap­ing how Rice dis­cussed the at­tacks, was ob­tained by the con­ser­vat­ive group Ju­di­cial Watch and has Re­pub­lic­ans con­cerned that the ad­min­is­tra­tion is with­hold­ing in­form­a­tion from Con­gress.

“This doesn’t need to be, shouldn’t be, and will not be a par­tis­an pro­cess,” Boehner said Thursday on the House floor. “Four Amer­ic­ans died at the hands of ter­ror­ists in a well-co­ordin­ated as­sault, and we will not take any short­cuts to the truth. We will not al­low any sideshows that dis­tract us from those goals.”

But Demo­crats have roundly re­jec­ted the need for a com­mit­tee, cit­ing the nu­mer­ous hear­ings and con­gres­sion­al work that has already gone in­to in­vest­ig­at­ing what happened in Benghazi and its af­ter­math. They charge that its form­a­tion is polit­ic­ally mo­tiv­ated, and they re­buked the Na­tion­al Re­pub­lic­an Con­gres­sion­al Com­mit­tee for us­ing the cre­ation of the com­mit­tee to drive fun­drais­ing.

“This is noth­ing more than a kangaroo court in the mak­ing,” House Demo­crat­ic Caucus Chair­man Xavi­er Be­cerra said this week.

Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Car­o­lina, a re­spec­ted former fed­er­al pro­sec­utor known for dra­mat­ic ques­tion­ing who will lead the pan­el, has called on fel­low Re­pub­lic­ans to ab­stain from any fun­drais­ing based on the in­vest­ig­a­tion.

But House Re­pub­lic­an lead­er­ship hasn’t fol­lowed Gowdy’s suit; Boehner dodged the ques­tion of NR­CC fun­drais­ing, say­ing Thursday, “Our fo­cus is get­ting the truth for these four fam­il­ies and for the Amer­ic­an people.”

The pan­el has slots for sev­en Re­pub­lic­ans and five Demo­crats. Demo­crats are still weigh­ing wheth­er to ap­point mem­bers to the com­mit­tee; while lead­er­ship ap­pears to be lean­ing to­ward a boy­cott, they haven’t made it of­fi­cial yet. They could make an an­nounce­ment as early as Fri­day, ac­cord­ing to a lead­er­ship aide.

House Minor­ity Lead­er Nancy Pelosi and Minor­ity Whip Steny Hoy­er sent a let­ter to Boehner earli­er this week, re­quest­ing equal num­bers of Re­pub­lic­ans and Demo­crats on the pan­el, as well as equal rep­res­ent­a­tion when it comes to the is­su­ance of sub­poen­as and how doc­u­ments are ob­tained and po­ten­tially re­leased, among oth­er points.

The com­mit­tee’s work could go on for years, well in­to the next cam­paign cycle. This par­tic­u­lar com­mit­tee ex­pires at the end of the 113th Con­gress, but the next Con­gress can reau­thor­ize it. If lead­er­ship chooses to do that, it won’t be hard — Re­pub­lic­ans are ex­pec­ted to main­tain con­trol of the House.

The money used for the com­mit­tee comes out of ex­ist­ing funds au­thor­ized for the func­tion­ing of the House, but a spe­cif­ic dol­lar amount for this com­mit­tee has not been spelled out.

What We're Following See More »
INCLUDES WAIVER FOR MATTIS
Congress Releases Stopgap Funding Bill
2 minutes ago
THE DETAILS

"Congressional negotiators released a stopgap spending bill Tuesday night to avert a partial government shutdown at midnight Friday and to fund federal agencies and programs through April 28." The 70-page continuing resolution includes $170 million to aid Flint, Michigan's water supply, and a waiver that would allow Ret. Gen. James Mattis to assume the role of secretary of Defense.

Source:
INTERSTATE COMPACT GAINING TRACTION
Democrats Explore Electoral College Changes
8 minutes ago
WHY WE CARE

"A number of Capitol Hill Democrats have revived proposals to reform or abolish the Electoral College," chief among Michigan's John Conyers, who "held a panel on Capitol Hill Tuesday to discuss options for eliminating the Electoral College and replacing it with a system where a national popular vote elects the president. ... The plan with the most support to reform the election college at the panel was the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, a proposal first developed in 2001 that would give the national popular vote winner the majority of electoral college votes through an agreement between the states."

Source:
EFFORT LIKELY TO DIE IN COMMITTEE
Jordan Can’t Force a Floor Vote on Impeaching Koskinen
13 hours ago
THE LATEST
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan attempted to force a floor vote on impeaching IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, but "the House voted overwhelmingly to refer it to the Judiciary Committee. ... The committee will not be required to take up the resolution." Earlier, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi "made a motion to table the resolution, which the House voted against by a 180-235 margin, mostly along party lines."
Source:
AFTER THE VOTE FOR SPEAKER
Ryan: No Committee Assignments Until New Year
18 hours ago
THE DETAILS

House Speaker Paul Ryan has decreed that House members "won’t receive their committee assignments until January — after they cast a public vote on the House floor for speaker. "The move has sparked behind-the-scenes grumbling from a handful of Ryan critics, who say the delay allows him and the Speaker-aligned Steering Committee to dole out committee assignments based on political loyalty rather than merit or expertise." The roll call to elect the speaker is set for Jan. 3, the first vote of the new Congress.

Source:
EXPECTED TO FUND THE GOVERNMENT THROUGH SPRING
Funding Bill To Be Released Tuesday
1 days ago
THE LATEST

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters on Monday that the government funding bill will be released on Tuesday. The bill is the last piece of legislation Congress needs to pass before leaving for the year and is expected to fund the government through the spring. The exact time date the bill would fund the government through is unclear, though it is expected to be in April or May.

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login