POLITICS: PennAve

Senate Republicans push Harry Reid for special Benghazi panel

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Senate Republicans are ramping up their efforts for the chamber to probe deeper into the deadly 2012 terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya, asking Majority Leader Harry Reid to create a special committee to investigate the Obama administration's handling of the matter.

In a letter to the Nevada Democrat on Thursday, the Republicans said that since the House voted last week to create a similar panel, the upper chamber should follow suit to "bridge jurisdictional gaps and allow us to better understand what happened."

While the Senate Intelligence, Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees have reviewed the attacks, Republicans complain the reports largely have been narrowly focused, incomplete and partisan.

"Unfortunately, congressional oversight committee action has been largely confined to jurisdictional bounds," said the letter, which was signed by 37 of the Senate's 45 Republicans. "As a result, the committees only have a partial review of the facts."

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who helped spearhead the letter, said that while the Intelligence Committee did a "pretty good job" reviewing Benghazi, the Armed Services and Foreign Relations panels "have done nothing."

"The Senate has been derelict in its job," he said. "That's a stain on the Senate's reputation of being an oversight body."

Graham also accused the Obama administration of stonewalling Republicans in their attempts to learn what happened at the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, when terrorists stormed the compound and killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.

"To say that I'm upset would be an understatement," he said. "So 37 Republicans are asking Sen. Reid to regroup and come out with a select committee format to get to the bottom of what happened in Benghazi."

The Republican-controlled House voted last week to establish a 12-member special "select committee" to investigate the attacks. The panel was set up to include seven Republicans and five Democrats, though House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., hasn't committed Democrats to participate.

Earlier this week, Senate Democrats rejected a request by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, for the upper chamber to create a similar panel. And Reid has shown no interest in a creating another Benghazi panel.

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