POLITICS: PennAve

House votes to create select committee to probe Benghazi attack

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Politics,Congress,Susan Ferrechio,House of Representatives,John Boehner,Benghazi,PennAve

Republicans on Thursday led the House of Representatives to pass a resolution creating a select committee to investigate the Sept.11, 2012, terrorist attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

The vote was 232-186, with seven Democrats joining 225 Republicans in support of the measure.

The resolution impanels a committee of one dozen lawmakers, comprised of seven Republicans, who are in the majority, and five Democrats.

House Speaker John Boehner has tapped Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., a former prosecutor, to chair the special committee. Gowdy said he plans to aggressively pursue interviews with anyone who he believes has information about the attack, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The vote to create the panel followed a debate that echoed the months-long partisan bickering over Benghazi, which has been the subject of several congressional inquiries as well as an internal State Department investigation.

Boehner, an Ohio Republican, in a relatively rare floor speech, explained why he was calling a vote to create the committee, after having resisted demands to do so in recent months.

"A line was crossed,” the speaker said, with new information discovered that seems to point to the White House obscuring information sought by House Republicans.

“Our committee sought the full truth, and the administration tried to make sure they wouldn’t find it,” Boehner said. “Which means, they tried to prevent the American people from finding the truth as well.”

The new panel will be empowered with the authority to subpoena witnesses and view classified materials, tools that Boehner said would help lawmakers determine why the United States was not able to prevent the attack and whether Obama administration officials tried to mislead the public on why it happened.

Four Americans were killed during the siege, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.

Democrats have so far refused to commit to join the panel. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called Boehner to allow the panel to be evenly split between the two parties, but GOP leaders rejected the idea, noting that it would allow Democrats to block subpoenas and other moves by the committee.

Democrats, during the debate, repeatedly accused the GOP of using the Benghazi attack for political purposes and asserted that neither the internal State Department probe nor the congressional investigations had turned up evidence of a cover-up by the administration.

“One more committee weighted in the majority is not going to do any better,” Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., said. “We have bottomed out on Benghazi. They want to use the tragedy as an excuse to generate partisan talking points.”

Boehner moved to create the committee after a lawsuit by conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch forced the release of an email that had been sent from Obama adviser Ben Rhodes to United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice in the days following the attack. In it, he advised her to stick to blaming the attack on the video in her upcoming appearances on five Sunday television talk shows.

“This obfuscation and refusal to come clean to Congress has left us as well as the people of this country wondering, what else is the White House hiding?” Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said.

There will be no companion committee created in the Democratically run Senate, said Majority Leader Harry Reid, of Nevada.

Reid said he saw nothing wrong with the email showing that Rhodes gave advice to Rice.

''Don't you think everybody gets some preparation before we go on the Sunday shows?” Reid said.

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