Democrats Consider Naming Just One Member to Benghazi Committee
House Democrats are considering naming just one person to the special committee investigating the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, a move that would serve as a symbolic protest of the panel’s creation, but would also allow Democrats access to information obtained by committee Republicans.
The Benghazi committee proposal was floated late Thursday in a letter to Democratic members from Rep. Rosa DeLauro, the co-chairwoman of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee and a trusted member of Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s inner circle.
Members had discussed naming five members, or not naming any at all. Calling the creation of the committee “deeply partisan,” the Connecticut Democrat suggested a compromise.
“If there is a sense of the caucus that we should participate, I suggest you consider a third option: naming just one Democratic member as an official panel participant,” she wrote in the letter obtained by CQ Roll Call. “Such a participant could maintain Democratic access to committee proceedings and material, question witnesses, monitor the House Majority’s activities and provide a powerful voice to raise issues and make appropriate public comments.”
DeLauro did not suggest who that member could be. Democrats plan to meet Friday morning to discuss their options.
Democrats have objected to the creation of the committee, in part, because it provides seven slots for Republicans and five for Democrats, a move they have said portends a partisan bent to the proceedings. In a meeting earlier this week, many Democrats thought they should boycott the committee outright. Still other Democrats believe they should fully participate.
For instance, Rep. Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif., another member of Pelosi’s inner circle, on Thursday reiterated his support for appointing a full slate of Democrats to the committee, but dismissed suggestions that Democrats opt in with partial participation by naming just one of their own to go up against Republicans.
“I think we ought to participate with all five,” Waxman told reporters. “The problem with [having one] is you get all the Republicans asking questions and then you have one Democrat.”
Waxman said ideally both sides would have equal representation, which Pelosi and Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., asked Speaker John A. Boehner for on Tuesday, but ultimately five was better than none.
“Whenever you have people forming a special committee for an investigation, especially with Republicans, there’s a tendency to overreach,” he argued. “Democrats ought to be there to call them out on it if they do.”
Meanwhile, Boehner’s and Pelosi’s camps are trying to hash out an agreement in which Democrats would participate in the panel, and in exchange would have a say in decisions about issuing subpoenas and other things usually in the majority’s power, according to senior aides. It is not clear, however, what extra powers Boehner could grant the minority.
Boehner is expected to name his remaining slots on Friday . He has already chosen Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C. to chair the committee.