As Republicans move ahead with plans to re-investigate the 2012 attack on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, Democrats will huddle Friday morning to discuss whether they will appoint members to sit on the proposed select committee.
The House is expected to vote on the creation of the panel Thursday, and Republicans — who have spearheaded this effort — are expected to name their appointees on Friday. But Democrats have been grappling among themselves over whether the best move politically would be to boycott the committee entirely. They argue that it amounts to nothing more than a GOP election-year talking point, and say the committee is inherently designed to close Democrats out of the process because of its composition; Republicans will have seven members appointed by Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, and Democrats will be able to appoint five members. At the same time, Democrats are concerned about the optics of not participating, and the ramifications of not being in the room when Republicans are hearing key testimony and issuing sensitive subpoenas.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is said to be inclined not to make appointments; Assistant Leader James E. Clyburn, D-S.C., told reporters earlier in the week that participation in the panel would be tantamount to "bringing the noose to my own hanging."
But other influential members of the Democratic Caucus, such as Energy and Commerce ranking member Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif., argue there should be minority representation at the table.
Boehner, speaking to reporters at his weekly news conference on Thursday, said he hopes Democrats will participate.
"I had a conversation with the minority leader yesterday and made clear that this is a serious investigation, that we wanted to work together to get to the truth," the Ohio Republican said.
"I think the 7-5 split is imminently fair," he said. "Mrs. Pelosi and I had a conversation about how the committee will operate, there are further conversations that are continuing on that issue."
Democratic leadership aides confirmed that the whole caucus will meet early Friday morning in hopes of reaching consensus on the issue.