Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 14, 2016

Benghazi Panel Will Have 7 Republicans, 5 Democrats

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated, 8:24 p.m. | The special House panel tasked with investigating the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, will operate as an investigative super committee of sorts with access to classified material, subpoena power and unlimited funding and time to carry out its work, according to legislative text released Tuesday night.


The House Select Committee on the Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack in Benghazi, as it will be known, combines the Intelligence Committee’s access to classified material with subpoena power wielded only by the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.


Both committees had been investigating the attack on a consulate that left four Americans, including an ambassador, dead. But Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio said he thinks the White House has been stonewalling Congressional investigators, so the special panel, which will be headed by Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., is necessary.


“It is unfortunate that it has to come to this, but when four Americans are killed by terrorists in a well-coordinated assault, the American people will not tolerate the evasion we have seen from the White House,” he said. “And given the administration’s history of slow-walking information, Chairman Gowdy and this panel will be provided as much time as needed to bring forth answers, accountability, and justice.”


The panel will be able to access information from the Central Intelligence Agency, the Director of National Intelligence, and the National Intelligence Program, none of which is available to panels other than the Intelligence Committee.


It also will have more Republicans than Democrats, a setback for Democrats who had called for party parity.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., had been calling for an equal distribution of Republicans and Democrats on the committee, but Republicans decided to provide seven slots for the GOP and five slots for Democrats on the 12-member panel.

A Boehner spokesman reminded reporters earlier in the day that prior special committees, such as one dealing with global warming, had more slots for the majority party.

The resolution empaneling the committee will most likely pass easily on a party-line vote later in the week, as Republicans have long pushed Boehner to take this step. Boehner already had announced that Gowdy would head the panel, but sources have been tight-lipped about who else might be chosen to fill the remaining slots.

Another open question is how Democrats will handle the panel. Some Democrats have called on leaders to boycott it, and Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., who is close to leadership, said that is a legitimate option.

“If the Republicans go ahead and establish a panel – as we expect they will – should Democrats participate?” he said on MSNBC on Tuesday afternoon. “And what Leader Pelosi has said is, if this is a fair process – meaning if you’re genuinely interested in trying to get more facts, rather than engage in a political witch hunt – then you should have even participation. … So, if Republicans aren’t willing to do that, it just is more evidence that they’re interested in politics rather than substance.”

On Tuesday evening, the House’s No. 3 Democrat, Assistant Leader James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, told reporters that if the panel isn’t set up like the House Ethics Committee, which has an even number of Democrats and Republicans serving, “I would be dead set against it.”

Clyburn said he wasn’t concerned about the optics of not having Democrats play a role on the special panel, saying the party “should not even participate in it” if the panel ultimately calls for anything less than an even split.

“Let them drive it, they’re driving it anyway,” Clyburn said. “I’m not bringing a noose to my own hanging.”

Earlier in the day, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., also suggested that she would be adverse to appointing Democrats to the select committee if bipartisanship were not guaranteed, but stopped short of committing to a full boycott.

Asked as she left the House floor on Tuesday night if she agreed with Clyburn’s position, Pelosi demurred: “You asked him what he thought, and I’ll let you know what I think tomorrow.”

Emma Dumain and Matt Fuller contributed to this report.


Related stories:

Democrats Warn Boehner About Partisan Makeup

Gowdy Tailor-Made for GOP’s Benghazi Assignment

Hoyer’s Theory on Benghazi Committee: Slap at Issa?

White House May Not Cooperate With New Benghazi Committee

  • JobsForAmericansPlease

    Bring it on.

  • Mike Croft

    Chris Van Hollen whining about someone playing politics. PRICELESS!

  • Rick Turner

    Democrats face a tidal wave and if the keep being dumb and crocked the tsunami will be the reality. Wash Post had Senate turn Republican at 82% probability.

    • john_robinson

      honestly, the less we talk about it, the better. I don’t want our side to get too over confident, and I don’t want their side to even see it coming.

  • Shootingstar

    I have no respect for Van Hollen. He comes across as an intelligent man until he opens his mouth and starts parroting the talking points of the day. He acts as though he doesn’t have one original thought of his own. What a Patsy.

  • Jack Everett

    Bohener has hit the bottom of the barrel with this one. It’s always been known Bohener is a follower not a leader. Suddenly the party of small government and budgets is throwing unlimited funds into this non issue. How does Bohener plan on paying for this travesty of justice?

    • 57nomad

      With the money the administration made selling rifles to the Mexican drug cartels.

  • EatAGreenie

    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., had been calling for an equal distribution of Republicans and Democrats on the committee.

    This woman is a complete idiot. Cram it down her throat the way she crammed Obamacare down ours. Unlike the Senate the House doesn’t have to pander to the little dictator Bi-otch!

  • Arkady Renko

    The Dems who pull the short straws and get stuck on this committee are going to be terrified. If the POTUS goes down and they tried to cover for him, they’re all going to get the splatter on them.

  • NYC

    I for one think that John Bohner made a wise decision to have only five democrats onboard…the democrats will of course want to negate everything that is voted on towards this investigation but will not be the deciding factor . Clyburn was right…the democrats are stalling, lying and evading and they know there’s going to be a hanging and rightly so! I pray that the truth will out and the guilty will suffer the full extent of the law in regards to their crimes…I also hope that the American public will get to “sit in” on these hearings via tv network coverage.

  • Bestuv Burke

    Obongo’s a communist. And he’s not even a very bright one.

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