The House voted Thursday evening to create a special committee to re-investigate the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, a move that observers believe will keep the issue in the public eye well into next year.
The resolution passed on a largely party line vote, 232-186, with seven Democrats joining the all the Republicans in backing the probe. The seven Democrats who crossed party lines were Ron Barber and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, John Barrow of Georgia, Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, Patrick Murphy of Florida, Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota and Nick J. Rahall II of West Virginia.
All but Peterson and McIntyre are on the "frontline" list of the most vulnerable Democrats in 2014 as identified by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee; McIntyre is retiring.
The panel will be a supercommittee of sorts, melding the Intelligence Committee's access to classified information with the Oversight and Government Reform Committee's power to subpoena administration officials. Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., will head the panel, and Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio is expected to name the other six committee members on Friday .
"This doesn't need to be, shouldn't be and will not be a partisan process," Boehner said on the House floor. "Four Americans died at the hands of terrorists in a well-coordinated assault and we will not take any shortcuts to the truth, accountability or justice. And we will not allow any side shows that distract us from those goals." Nonetheless, Democrats decried the process as a partisan sham . Many in the caucus believe that Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., should boycott the process by abstaining from making Democratic appointments to the committee.
Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, D-N.Y., dismissed the probe as little more than a fundraising ploy, citing the National Republican Congressional Committee's use this week of the Benghazi investigation in a plea for donations on its website. “To make use politically and financially of the tragedy of the loss of four great Americans is beneath contempt," she said.
At his weekly news briefing earlier Thursday, Boehner said he hoped Democrats would participate and indicated that negotiations were ongoing.
"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." Democrats will meet Friday morning to discuss the matter again, after which Pelosi is expected to decide whether to appoint committee members.
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