POLITICS: PennAve

John Boehner: Partisan split on Benghazi panel 'eminently fair'

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House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, on Thursday dismissed Democratic charges that the Benghazi select committee is political and would not provide the basis for a fair investigation.

Legislation creating the committee calls for a panel of 12, with the majority Republicans controlling seven seats and Democrats holding five. During his weekly news conference, Boehner said Republicans have gone to great lengths to minimize the potential for partisanship, noting that the ratio of majority party to minority party seats is smaller than the nine-six split on the global warming select committee that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., created in 2007 when she was speaker.

“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. I think the seven-five split is eminently fair — frankly fairer than her global warming committee that she set up,” Boehner said.

Boehner said he plans to have additional conversations with Pelosi regarding how the Benghazi select committee would operate. The panel is expected to be approved by a vote of the full House that is scheduled for Thursday afternoon. Republicans are overwhelmingly supportive of Boehner’s decision to form the committee and have more than enough votes to authorize it.

Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., was appointed by Boehner to serve as chairman of the panel. The remaining six Republicans also will be appointed by the speaker. His picks will likely be revealed on Friday. Pelosi would appoint the five Democrats if her caucus decides against boycotting the committee. House Democrats are set to meet privately on Friday to mull their options.

Officially known as the Select Committee on the Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack in Benghazi, the panel will investigate the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. diplomatic consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that left four Americans dead, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens. Boehner decided to move ahead with the committee after a conservative activist group had more success in obtaining documents pertaining the inquiry into the deadly assault than the standing House committees that had been investigating the matter.

Also Thursday, reporters pressed Boehner on Democratic accusations that the National Republican Congressional Committee is using the Benghazi select committee to promote fundraising for the 2014 campaign. The speaker declined to directly address the issue, saying only that the goal of House Republicans is to get to the truth of what happened in the attack.

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