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October 20, 2014

Posts in "Benghazi"

October 17, 2014

Before Ending Chairmanship, Issa Sets Ebola Hearing for Oversight

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Issa will chair a House hearing on Ebola. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

California Republican Darrell Issa has a well-deserved reputation for finding ways to bring the issue of the moment into his committee’s jurisdiction.

President Barack Obama’s handling of the Ebola crisis is no exception.

On Friday afternoon, the Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman announced he would convene a full panel hearing in seven days, on Oct. 24, titled, “The Ebola Crisis: Coordination of a Multi-Agency Response.” Full story

September 17, 2014

Watch Live: Select Committee on Benghazi Holds First Hearing (Video)

The House Select Committee on Benghazi holds its inaugural hearing, titled “Implementation of the Accountability Review Board recommendations.” The hearing begins at 10 a.m.

 

Related stories:

Parties’ Shared Benghazi Goals: Win the Hearings, Control the Narrative

ISIS Puts Spotlight Back on Terror as Benghazi Hearings Kick Off

Gowdy Hires Top Lawyer for Benghazi Committee

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Parties’ Shared Benghazi Goals: Win the Hearings, Control the Narrative

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On the eve of a new round of hearings, Cummings made it clear Democrats intend to defend the Obama administration’s handling of the 2012 Benghazi terror attacks. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Reps. Trey Gowdy and Elijah E. Cummings say they don’t want the Select Committee on Benghazi to be driven by partisanship, and both have made overtures over the past four months to prove they mean it.

But no matter how many times the South Carolina Republican and Maryland Democrat huddle in the Speaker’s Lobby and pledge to treat the committee’s mission with dignity, the chairman and ranking member probably won’t be able to drown out the partisan voices on sidelines just 48 days from the midterm elections.

On the eve of the committee’s first public hearing, set for Wednesday morning, Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and progressives, on Capitol Hill and off, were already drawing battle lines. Full story

September 15, 2014

ISIS Puts Spotlight Back on Terror as Benghazi Hearings Kick Off

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Gowdy leads the Benghazi select committee. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 12:16 p.m. | After months of behind-the-scenes work that saw the House Benghazi Select Committee virtually disappear from the media landscape, the much-hyped investigatory panel returns to the spotlight this week with its first public hearing.

The 10 a.m. Wednesday hearing comes less than a week after the two-year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack in Libya that killed four Americans and at a time when the rise of ISIS has refocused much of the country’s attention on terror and the Middle East.

The Benghazi committee, announced with great fanfare in May by House Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, and immediately dismissed as a political stunt by Democrats, has spent the summer hiring staff and reviewing evidence.

There was — and still is — an expectation among Republicans that Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., a former prosecutor, will go after top administration officials involved in the handling of the incident and its aftermath, including former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and current Secretary John Kerry.

But neither of those two political heavyweights will appear this week, and Wednesday’s hearing looks to be more deliberative than explosive — which may be a sign that Gowdy is determined to deliver on promises to the Democrats on the committee that he would not politicize the investigation.

Wednesday’s hearing focuses on the implementation of recommendations from an independent review board and recommendations from the Benghazi Independent Panel on Best Practices.

The committee will hear from Greg Starr, the assistant secretary of State for diplomatic security, Mark Sullivan, the former director of the Secret Service, and Todd Keil, the former assistant secretary of infrastructure protection for the Department of Homeland Security.

Sullivan and Keil served on the Independent Panel of Best Practices, which issued 40 recommendations for increased diplomatic security a little over a year ago — chief among them being the creation of Starr’s job.

The hearing, based on the prospective agenda, seems less focused on Benghazi and more focused on a forward-looking approach to security management practices — a topic that has taken on new importance with the emergence of ISIS, the jihadist insurgents who control parts of Syria and Iraq.

Congress will also weigh a request this week from President Barack Obama to authorize broader military action against the group, which has captured the ire of the American public by posting videos of the beheadings of two U.S. journalists.

The Benghazi attack, of course, will be a topic of discussion Wednesday, and the public will get its first look at whether Gowdy, a prosecutor for 16 years before coming to Congress, can keep the hearing from bogging down in the partisan bickering that plagued the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which had been conducting its own Benghazi probe.

Amanda Duvall, the new committee’s deputy communications director, told CQ Roll Call that Gowdy has long said there would be public hearings. “But the work of an investigation involves depositions and witness interviews that, by nature of what those are, are not public,” Duvall said.

Gowdy announced last month that retired three-star general Lt. Gen. Dana K. Chipman would serve as chief counsel for the panel.

Chipman was the senior military lawyer for the Army for four years as judge advocate general at the Pentagon before he retired last November after 33 years on active duty.

CQ Roll Call reported in July that security clearance backlogs had slowed hiring for the panel.

Republicans provided $3.3 million for the 12-member committee to spend by the end of the year, more than the budgets of at least two House standing committees. The panel can keep working in 2015 with a renewed budget.

The other Republicans on the panel are Reps. Martha Roby of Alabama, Susan Brooks of Indiana, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Peter Roskam of Illinois, Mike Pompeo of Kansas and Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia.

The Democrats are Reps. Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland, Adam Smith of Washington, Adam Schiff of California, Linda T. Sánchez of California, and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois.

Correction 12:30 p.m.

An earlier version of the post incorrectly identified Amanda Duvall. She’s the deputy communications director.

 

Related stories:

Delayed Benghazi Hearings Equal Deliberate Quiet

Meet the Members of the Benghazi Committee

Gowdy Names Phil Kiko as Staff Director for Benghazi Committee

Political Typecasting on the Benghazi Panel

Benghazi Panel Will Have 7 Republicans, 5 Democrats

Benghazi Committee: Democrats Warn Boehner About Partisan Makeup

Reid Says There Will Be No Senate Committee to Investigate Benghazi (Video)

Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat

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September 8, 2014

September Congressional Agenda: Must-Pass Bills and Messaging Gambits

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Boehner wants to contrast House action with Senate inaction. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

With Congress back in town Monday after five weeks off, plenty of Republicans and Democrats have made it clear the session’s No. 1 priority is passing a spending bill to avoid a government shutdown.

There’s also a lot of bipartisan consensus, it turns out, on No. 2 — which can be summed up fairly neatly under the heading “Make the Other Guys Look Bad Ahead of the Elections.”

In a final, jam-packed sprint to Nov. 4 — the House is in session just 12 days, the Senate 15 — members in both chambers will be scrambling to check off those top two items, and a few others as well.

First Things First. No one wants another government shutdown. Federal funding runs out on Sept. 30, so Congress has to pass a short-term continuing resolution to keep agencies operational or risk a repeat of last year’s disaster that put congressional approval ratings at an all-time low. Leaders on both sides of the aisle and rotunda say they want a policy-rider free CR that runs through early December, but some Republicans could revolt over immigration executive orders or reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank.

Which Leads Us to … Reauthorizing the Ex-Im. Funding for the institution that underwrites sales of U.S. goods abroad will expire at the end of the month, and its future is shaky: Far-right lawmakers say the Export-Import Bank represents corporate welfare, while other Republicans say that dissolving the institution would be catastrophic for small businesses. There’s growing interest in extending the bank’s charter for just a few months to buy Congress more time to reach a long-term agreement, but aides to senior GOP lawmakers caution that a deal on how to proceed is still elusive.

War on ISIS. It’s not clear whether Congress will be compelled to act on legislation authorizing air strikes in the region following the execution by Islamic extremists of two American journalists. But calls are coming from both sides of the aisle for Congress to definitively authorize President Barack Obama to use force against ISIS, the group that controls parts of Syria and Iraq. For the time being, the only planned House response is in the form of committee hearings. In the Democratic-controlled Senate, an aide said that “we are many steps away from knowing whether this is going to be an issue to come to Congress or not.”

The GOP ‘Closing Argument.’ Republicans intend to pass a number of jobs and energy bills over the next few weeks in what Speaker John A. Boehner referred to recently as a “closing argument” before the midterms: The GOP is working for Americans, while “the leader of the dysfunctional, do-nothing Senate plans to spend the final legislative days before November talking about the Koch brothers.”

Spotlight on Benghazi. Along with taking already-passed bills and re-bundling them to send over to the Democratic Senate a second time, House Republicans will also remind voters that they are paying attention to national security concerns: South Carolina Republican Trey Gowdy, the chairman of the specially-created committee to probe the 2012 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, will convene the panel’s first hearing this month.

Pelosi’s Aces: UI, Immigration. Democrats don’t control the legislative agenda in the House, but they have a couple of cards they can play to try and spare their party of some bloodletting this fall. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s troops will likely continue to support White House plans to use executive orders to grant more stays of deportation to undocumented immigrants in light of the GOP’s failure to act on comprehensive overhaul legislation. They will also undoubtedly focus on the GOP’s refusal to extend the emergency unemployment insurance program, nine months after funding lapsed.

Speaking of the Koch Brothers … In the Senate, Democrats will kick off their first day back by proceeding with a vote to cut off debate on a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court ruling allowing unlimited campaign spending by corporations and individuals. They are banking that Republicans filibuster the effort so they can spend their remaining weeks before the midterms reconsidering items from Majority Leader Harry Reid’s “fair shot” agenda, the first of which would be a bill to improve college affordability. A proposal to raise the federal minimum wage would follow.

Senate Republicans Playing It Safe. Reid’s Republican colleagues, anticipating a banner year at the polls in November, have not tipped their hands as to how they want to spend September. To thwart Reid’s wish to force politically loaded votes on the Senate floor, GOP leaders could urge members to allow debate on the campaign finance bill — the quintessential symbolic messaging measure that will never advance.

Humberto Sanchez and Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.

House, Senate Laying Groundwork for War on ISIS

House GOP Plan for September: Shame the Senate

Boehner Defers to Hensarling on Export-Import Bank (Updated)

McConnell, Reid Spar Over Campaign Financing

Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat

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August 22, 2014

Gowdy Hires Top Lawyer for Benghazi Committee

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Gowdy’s Benghazi select committee will hold its first hearing next month. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After an extended period of quiet, the special committee for investigating the attacks in Benghazi may be readying for action.

Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C. announced Friday he has hired a retired three-star general to lead the panel’s legal team.

Lt. Gen. Dana K. Chipman was the senior military lawyer for the Army for four years as judge advocate general at the Pentagon, Gowdy’s office said. He retired last November after 33 years on active duty.

Full story

June 9, 2014

House GOP’s Summer Agenda: Bergdahl, Benghazi and Tax Extenders

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Rep. Trey Gowdy heads the House probe into the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The House is back in Washington for almost two full months, but don’t look for a lot of breakthroughs: GOP leadership has pared back big-ticket wish lists, choosing instead to sprint for the August recess with a relatively modest legislative agenda.

There is less and less serious talk of an overhaul of immigration, a rewrite of the tax code or replacing the Democrats’ health care law. Instead, it’s much more likely the next two months of House floor action — roughly 28 legislative days before a monthlong summer recess — will be consumed by such small-bore economic measures as targeted tax extenders and energy regulation bills.
Full story

May 28, 2014

Meet the Members of the Benghazi Committee

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(Chris Hale/CQ Roll Call Illustration)

Over the next few weeks, we’ll learn more about the new special House committee tasked with investigating the Obama administration’s response to the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four people, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens. The election-year probe will command attention and keep the focus on both President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as she considers a 2016 presidential bid.

Hang on to this handy chart, put together by reporter Daniel Newhauser, to keep track of the 12 lawmakers appointed by House leaders to serve on the panel, officially dubbed the House Select Committee on the Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack in Benghazi.

South Carolina Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy serves as chairman, and Democrat Elijah E. Cummings of Maryland serves as the committee’s ranking member.

The committee Republicans are Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Peter Roskam of Illinois, Mike Pompeo of Kansas, Martha Roby of Alabama and Susan W. Brooks of Indiana.

The committee Democrats are Adam Smith of Washington, Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Adam B. Schiff and Linda T. Sánchez, both of California.

Full story

May 27, 2014

Cummings Says Issa’s ‘Going Rogue’ on Benghazi (Video)

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Cummings says Issa is “going rogue.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. Darrell Issa’s decision to press on with his House panel’s Benghazi investigation, despite the creation of a new select committee to look into the 2012 terror attack in Libya, is an indication the California Republican is “going rogue,” a leading Democrat said Tuesday.

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings said that Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is undermining the new special select committee created by Speaker John A. Boehner and chaired by Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C.

“I think he is going rogue,” Issa, the ranking Democrat on the Oversight Committee, said in an appearance on MSNBC’s “Politics Nation” with Al Sharpton. “I actually believe that Chairman Issa is out of control, I really believe that.”

Full story

May 23, 2014

Kerry to Testify June 12 Before Oversight Committee — but Not Benghazi Panel (Updated)

Updated 3:58 p.m. | Secretary of State John Kerry will testify June 12 before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee — but, the State Department says he won’t be going before the new special select committee on Benghazi.

In a letter to Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa, the State Department said Kerry is open to testifying about Benghazi in June.

Earlier this month, the Oversight Committee subpoenaed Kerry to testify on May 29. Due to diplomatic responsibilities, the State Department said Kerry was unavailable for that date, but said he could testify on June 12 or June 20.

Issa agreed to June 12 Friday, spokesman Frederick Hill said in a statement.

Because Kerry has agreed to testify before the Oversight panel, the State Department said there is no need for him to testify before the Benghazi committee. Full story

By Matt Fuller Posted at 2:03 p.m.
Benghazi

May 22, 2014

House Passes Defense Authorization, Despite Veto Threat

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Denham wants to attach an immigration vote to a defense authorization bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A broad and familiar coalition of Republicans and Democrats came together Thursday to pass an annual Pentagon policy bill, with House GOP leadership largely ducking some of the more contentious debates and amendments related to the National Defense Authorization Act.

As a veto threat loomed over the bill — the White House has threatened a veto on the defense authorization act for years and has yet to interrupt the 52-year streak of the president signing the measure into law — House lawmakers voted 325-98 to pass a bill authorizing more than $590 billion for defense activities in fiscal 2015.

While the House went late into the night Wednesday disposing of 169 amendments made in order for floor consideration, much of the debate on the bill focused on what the House wouldn’t be debating.

The most notable amendment excluded was a proposal from Rep. Jeff Denham to give certain undocumented immigrants legal status in exchange for enlisting in the military.

During last year’s defense authorization, the Rules Committee made in order that proposal from the California Republican, but GOP leadership convinced Denham to withdraw his amendment on the floor.

This year, with immigration one of the touchiest issues in the House, leaders decided not to give Denham the choice; they killed the amendment in the Rules Committee before it could ever get a vote. Full story

May 21, 2014

Pelosi Names Benghazi Committee Democrats

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Pelosi named five Democrats to the new Benghazi committee. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated, 5:33 p.m., May 21 | The House Democrats appointed to the special committee on Benghazi said Tuesday that they consider the panel unnecessary, but will participate if only to ensure Republicans do not politicize the deaths of four Americans.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California said that after weeks of negotiations with Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio, Republicans made no hard commitments that Democrats would be given power in procedural decisions made on the committee.

Yet Pelosi said she decided to name five Democrats to serve on the special committee looking into the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, because she believes the investigation into the attack carried out by Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., had been run unfairly. Full story

Pelosi Leaning Toward Appointing Members to Benghazi Committee

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After dithering on the issue for several weeks, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is leaning toward appointing members to the special committee investigating the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, according to a senior Democratic aide.

The California Democrat met with Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio on Tuesday, seeking assurances that the committee would be procedurally fair and that Democrats would be considered in decisions about issuing subpoenas and calling witnesses. Immediately after meeting with the speaker, Pelosi met with her leadership and followed that up with a 10 a.m. meeting with the team again on Wednesday.

“No decision has been made, but Pelosi is now leaning toward appointing a full complement of members to the Select Committee on Benghazi,” the aide said. “Talks between Pelosi and Boehner staff continue this morning on remaining items Democrats are asking for to ensure fairness, transparency and balance with respect to the committee’s proceedings and operations.”

Pelosi will meet with her team again later this afternoon.

May 20, 2014

Boehner, Pelosi Meet About Benghazi

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(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California met for an hour on Tuesday to discuss the special committee established to investigate the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, yet the two sides emerged no closer to a resolution.

Democrats have expressed concern that the committee would be highly politicized and partisan and have not yet decided whether to appoint minority members to the panel. Aides have said they feel as if they will be ramrodded when it comes to subpoena decisions and witness interviews.

Both sides, however, were tight-lipped coming out of the meeting, except to say that general concerns were discussed. Full story

Democrats Still Undecided on Benghazi Committee Participation

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Pelosi is still undecided on whether he caucus will appoint members to the special committee on Benghazi. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Democrats are still weighing whether they will appoint members to the GOP-led special committee to investigate the September 2012 attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya — but don’t call it a caucus-wide “division,” two senior lawmakers implored.

“[It's] the wrong word,” Caucus Vice Chairman Joseph Crowley of New York said at a Tuesday morning news conference. “The caucus is not divided. … What the caucus is doing is helping our leadership come up with a plan on how to approach what is a very serious issue.”

“Democrats’ concern has always been whether this will be a legitimate process, to make a sincere effort to learn something new, or whether it’s really … a campaign cash-raising tool,” added Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra of California. Full story

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