Democrats say several committees have already investigated the
Benghazi attacks exhaustively, without proving Republican
allegations that the administration did too little to repulse the
attacks and then tried to protect President Barack Obama from the
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters that there was a
range of opinions among Democrats as to whether they should join the
committee with full or partial participation - or boycott it.
House Speaker John Boehner announced the appointment of the seven
Republicans in a statement.
"I have confidence that they will lead a serious, fact-based
inquiry," Boehner said, a day after the House voted 232-186 to
establish a 12-member panel on the attacks in the Libyan city in
which U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans
The committee will be chaired by South Carolina Republican Trey
Gowdy, a former prosecutor and outspoken critic of the Obama
administration's handling of the attacks. The others named were
Susan Brooks of Indiana, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Mike Pompeo of Kansas,
Martha Roby of Alabama, Peter Roskam of Illinois and Lynn
Westmoreland of Georgia. Five places are available for Democrats.
Pelosi called the panel "a political stunt" to make the attacks an
issue in congressional elections this November.
"Their focus on the Affordable Care Act has run its course," Pelosi
told reporters, speaking of Republican criticism of Obama's
healthcare law. "Now they have to talk about something else."
Pelosi and Democratic whip Steny Hoyer sent Boehner a letter this
week outlining proposals they said would help ensure the committee's
fairness, such as bipartisan agreement on subpoenas and protocols
governing the questioning of witnesses and release of documents.
Pelosi's office said on Friday that she had received a memorandum
from Boehner's office in reply. But the committee rules suggested in
the memo were "fundamentally unfair," Pelosi wrote back to Boehner,
and asked for a meeting to discuss it.
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The proposed rules would not prevent the "unacceptable and repeated
abuses committed by Chairman (Darrell) Issa," the chairman of the
Oversight and Government Reform Committee, one of the panels that
has already been investigating the Benghazi events, Pelosi wrote to
The memo from Boehner's office suggested that Gowdy would be able to
issue subpoenas unilaterally and exclude Democratic staff from
witness interviews if he thought consulting with the Democrats was
not "practicable," a Democratic aide said.
Republicans said Boehner's and Pelosi's staffs were still in
discussions, but it would not stop the panel starting work. "We're
happy to meet, and we hope they appoint members, but we're not going
to allow this to hold up the committee from getting started,"
Boehner spokesman Kevin Smith said.
(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Grant McCool)
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