Speaker John A. Boehner on Friday announced the Republicans who will serve on the special committee to investigate the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya.
The Ohio Republican stood on the House floor and read off the names of the selected members before a chamber hushed in anticipation, noting in a statement following the selections that the investigation is about getting truth for the victims’ families.
“These members have each demonstrated a commitment to this goal, and I have confidence that they will lead a serious, fact-based inquiry. As I have expressed to each of them, I expect this committee to carry out an investigation worthy of the American lives lost in Benghazi,” Boehner said in the statement.
The appointees are Reps. 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. Boehner named Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina the chairman-designate earlier this week.
Boehner chose members who sit on most of the major committees who have investigated the Beghazi attack. He also chose members who have deep roots in the conservative movement while also ensuring leadership has a trusted ear on the committee.
Roskam, the highest ranking member on who will serve on the committee, is the conference's chief deputy whip. As a sitting member of leadership, he will arguably be Boehner's most steady hand on the panel, and is a former trial lawyer.
Jordan was widely said to be vying for a slot on the Benghazi panel and is, like Gowdy, a member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the lead panel investigating the attacks thus far. A former chairman of the Republican Study Committee, he has a conservative pedigree sure to satisfy far-right members of the base who want the Benghazi committee to be sufficiently aggressive in its lines of inquiry.
Jordan is routinely floated as a candidate to head the Oversight panel if Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., is not returned the gavel next year. Yet he has regularly butted heads with leadership, so placing him on the Benghazi committee could alleviate pressure to promote him on the panel next year, while giving the title to a more trusted leadership-friendly hand, such as Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.
Westmoreland is also trusted among House conservatives and has a seat on the House Intelligence Committee, where the Benghazi attack has been investigated. It was speculated that he would be appointed because he served as the head of the Benghazi Working Group, an assembly of lawmakers who regularly huddled to discuss the House's investigation of the incident. He has also earned leadership’s trust as a member of the GOP whip team.
Pompeo, like Westmoreland, is a member of the Intelligence Committee; unlike Westmoreland, the Kansan is eyeing a promotion to top Republican on the panel in the 114th Congress to replace retiring Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich.
Since Pompeo is the least senior member interested in the slot, he's not likely to beat out longtime Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., a close ally of Boehner. The Benghazi committee will give Pompeo another place to shine and could avoid hurt feelings over the seat, which is appointed directly by the Speaker.
Nunes told the Washington Examiner earlier this week that he took himself out of the running to be on the Benghazi panel out of concern that if it stretched past the end of the 113th Congress, his participation would preclude being placed at the helm of the Intelligence panel.
Boehner, aides said, also knew the Benghazi panel needed gender diversity, having learned a hard lesson during the government shutdown about the optics of stacking a negotiating table fully with white men (http://blogs.rollcall.com/218/diane-black-continues-rise-with-budget-conference/?dcz=). He picked women who made some sense, however, in Roby and Brooks.
Roby, like Gowdy a member of the historic 2010 class, has served as chairwoman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, in which capacity she led that panel's investigative work into the military's preparation and response to the attacks in Benghazi. She is also trusted by leadership.
Brooks, Boehner's sole freshman appointee, sits on the Homeland Security Committee and also on the Ethics Committee — an assignment made by the Speaker. Like Gowdy, she has a prosecutorial background, having served as a U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Indiana.
Democrats are still mulling whether they will participate in the special committee. Aides to Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., have been in discussions about giving Democrats assurances that subpoenas and other matters handled by the committee’s majority are carried out in consultation with Democrats.
“I also urge my Democratic colleagues to treat this tragedy with the proper respect and appoint members so that we can finally, on a bipartisan basis, get answers, provide accountability, and help deliver justice,” Boehner said in the statement. “It is critical that this committee do its work in a focused, timely manner, so that the House can continue to make the economy and job creation its priorities.”