Republicans quietly set to approve continuation of controversial Benghazi committee

Meredith Shiner
Political correspondent
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Benghazi Suspect Captured by US Special Forces (ABC News)

Benghazi Suspect Captured by US Special Forces

The Select Committee on Benghazi will continue to convene in 2015, over the objections of Democrats, after House Republicans pushed through language Tuesday to reauthorize the panel without giving any budget or time limits for its work.

The GOP did not allow for a separate up-or-down vote that would have permitted members to debate the continuation of the special panel. The panel cost upwards of $1 million to operate last Congress, when the House voted to establish it.

Serious questions surrounding the efficacy of the panel emerged in 2014, as Republicans pumped the brakes on their aggressive attacks in the run-up to the midterm elections. Seven formal investigations already completed have debunked the conspiracy theories surrounding the attack on the Libyan consulate that fueled the special panel’s formation in the first place.

In a joint statement released Tuesday and provided to Yahoo News, the five Democratic members of the Benghazi Committee lamented that reauthorization language was bundled into the must-pass biennial bill setting up the rules for each Congress, effectively preventing debate on whether the panel should continue.

“We are disappointed that the Speaker incorporated the reauthorization of the Select Committee on Benghazi into the must-pass rules package, which sets no limit on the Committee’s budget or timeframe,” the five Democrats said in the statement.  “After eight months and more than a million taxpayer dollars spent, it remains unclear what new questions the Select Committee seeks to answer. Since our members were denied the ability to meaningfully debate or amend the resolution, we now look to the Committee to quickly adopt rules that ensure that our Democratic members are able to participate fully in the investigation.”

House Select Committee on Benghazi chairman Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., left, and ranking member Elijah Cummings, D-Md., talks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014, as they leave the House Select Committee on Benghazi hearing on the implementation of the Accountability Review Board recommendations. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

The five Democrats who serve on the committee are: Reps. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, Adam Smith of Washington, Adam Schiff of California, Linda Sánchez of California and Tammy Duckworth of Illinois.

In November, Yahoo News reported that Speaker John Boehner of Ohio had announced that Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., would continue to head the committee, even though the decision to extend its existence had not yet been authorized.

Tuesday’s rules package for the new Congress took care of that formal technicality, although Republicans will face the challenge of justifying the expense of the select committee by providing information that previous, comprehensive investigations — including those conducted by other permanent, GOP-led House committees — did not.