May 5th, 2014
04:08 PM ET
6 months ago

House Democrats unclear on whether they'll boycott Benghazi panel

(CNN) - The No. 2 House Democrat harshly criticized House Speaker John Boehner’s decision to move forward with a select committee to investigate the deadly Benghazi terror attack, and said Democrats haven’t decided if they’ll participate.

"We think this is a political, not a substantive effort," Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland told reporters on Monday about the new panel to probe the armed assault in September 2012 that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

Hoyer said he would urge all fellow Democrats to vote against the bill creating the panel that’s expected to be on the floor as early as this week.

The GOP-led House is expected to approve it, but it’s possible Democrats could boycott the investigation.

Boehner said South Carolina Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy, a former federal prosecutor, would chair the committee. But Democrats have not received any details on its structure, funding or powers.

House Democratic leaders want more information before deciding how they would respond.

"If they (Republicans) want to have a substantive effort, it ought to be an equally balanced committee so this is not an exercise in partisanship. But we'll see whether that's the case,” Hoyer said.

Benghazi has become a political flashpoint in Washington and a rallying cry for Republican critics of President Barack Obama’s conduct of foreign policy.

Republicans have focused on the U.S. security posture before the attack in eastern Libya, the official response during the assault, and the Obama administration’s slow-to-evolve explanation of what occurred once it was over.

The issue boiled over in 2013, but had been simmering this year until new documents surfaced last week that prompted renewed GOP claims the administration politicized its public explanation of events in the days after the attack.

The White House said the new development was unrelated to Benghazi.

One senior House Democratic leadership aide echoed Hoyer's call for a 50/50 split among GOP and Democratic lawmakers.

The aide noted criticism Democrats raised in 2005 when Republicans formed an investigative panel to study the response to Hurricane Katrina and gave more slots to GOP members. At that time House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi refused to appoint Democratic members.

Democrats also want to know whether Gowdy will be able to unilaterally issue subpoenas, or whether the panel would be required to have a majority vote before demanding new testimony or materials.

On Sunday Rep. Adam Schiff, a senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, called the Benghazi select committee “a colossal waste of time, saying the House already had four investigations.

“I don't think it makes sense really for Democrats to participate. I think it's just a tremendous red herring and a waste of taxpayer resources,” Schiff said on Fox News.

Hoyer read quotes from Boehner in April when he said he opposed the creation of such a panel.

The "political pressure of the base" made the speaker change his mind, Hoyer said. He said he didn’t believe the panel would reveal any new information.

Hoyer raised a question for GOP leaders about Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, whose panel has taken the lead in investigating Benghazi.

"Either they think Mr. Issa is a competent chairman and is pursuing a competent investigation or they don't," Hoyer said.

Hoyer said Issa already had subpoena power to obtain testimony and documents, held "numerous hearings" and has found "no smoking gun, no wrongdoing."


Filed under: Congress • Libya • Steny Hoyer
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. JeromiJWiggins

    I have Said It once and will say it again. Mr Boehner were is the Panel to investigate Reaganomics. I mean 30+ years later and the Money still has not trickled down as promised. In fact the Income gap as Widen.

    May 5, 2014 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  2. jinx9to88

    13 embassies attacked under BUSH and no Committees were formed to look into why theses happened. The GOP should be ashamed of themselves they way they are going about this.

    1. Jan. 22, 2002: Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami Attacks Indian U.S. Consulate
    2. June 14, 2002: Suicide Car-Bomb Outside U.S. Consulate in Karachi
    3. Oct. 12, 2002: String Of Bali Bombings Included U.S. Consulate
    4. Feb. 28, 2003: Consulate in Karachi, Pakistan, Attacked For the Second Time in One Year
    5. May 12, 2003: 36 People Including 9 Americans Die After Terrorists Storm U.S. Compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
    6. July 30, 2004: Islamist Attacks U.S. Embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan
    7. Dec. 6, 2004: Five Staff and Four Security Guards Die in U.S. consulate attack in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
    8. March 2, 2006: Third Attack on Karachi U.S. Consulate Killed U.S. Diplomat
    9. Sept. 12, 2006: Four Gunmen Stormed the U.S. compound in Damascus, Syria
    10. Jan. 12, 2007: Greek Terrorists Fired a Rocket-Propelled Grenade at the U.S. Embassy
    11. March 18, 2008: A Mortar is Fired at the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a, Yemen
    12. July 9, 2008: Three Turkish Policemen were Killed When Gunman Fired on the U.S. Consulate Istanbul, Turkey
    13. Sept. 17, 2008: 16 People Including 2 Americans Die in an Orchestrated Attack on the U.S. Embassy Sana’a, Yemen

    Just Saying…… The GOP hypocrites!! People wakeup!!!

    May 5, 2014 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  3. Abbey

    Please block it! Do just that, and Hillary is toast!

    May 5, 2014 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  4. Abbey

    Democrats are becoming caricatures of themselves. By blocking this, they only care about Hillary and the White House.

    May 5, 2014 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  5. freedom

    Let them boycott it at their on peril. Four Americans were murdered. This isn't a democrat or republican issue. It's a national security and American issue. And unlike crass Hilary, it does matter.

    May 5, 2014 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  6. don in albuquerque

    This would almost be funny if it were not so pathetic. The GOTP has made a joke out of this entire incident. It is ringing of Santorum quest several years ago to stand up the rights of a brain dead woman. The GOTP is deserving of nothing but contempt. Hell yes the Dems should boycott Issa's hearing. In fourteen years name me two laws they have passed that helped the American people. Vote these do nothings out.

    May 5, 2014 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  7. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Your idea is a good one rs.
    The only thing is that the Dems have had ample opportunities to out and "drown the GOP in their own idiocy" and they have opted not to.
    It is almost as if they were physically incapable of doing so.
    A great idea though.
    I only wish they were capable of seeing it through.

    May 5, 2014 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  8. gk

    Ben Rhodes, the Deputy National Security Advisor: “[U]nderscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy.”

    May 5, 2014 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  9. CALIFORNIA

    You dems don't get it. It's not the actual incident but the obvious political cover-up after the fact.

    May 5, 2014 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
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