A Democratic boycott of the House Benghazi select committee won’t stop its investigation, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) insisted on Monday.
He said a boycott would require Republicans to meet a high standard in order for the panel to be taken seriously but that it would not prevent it from moving forward.
“It will not impede the investigation,” he said during a moderated forum before the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in San Antonio, Texas. “I do think it will cause us to have to adhere to a higher standard if they don’t participate. But this is about one issue. It’s about getting to the truth of what happened on Sept. 11, 2012. That’s all it is, pure and simple.”
Boehner has appointed the seven Republican members of the panel he set up to investigate the Benghazi terrorist attack, but Democrats have yet to decide if they will participate and appoint their allotment of five members. They have said the new panel is unnecessary and politically motivated.
The Speaker said his discussions with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) were continuing.
“I promised Ms. Pelosi that if she appoints members to this, they will be treated fairly,” he said. “We’ve been having a discussion over the last four or five days over how witnesses will be handled, how documents will be handled, just trying to come to some understanding upfront of what I mean by fairness.”
Boehner again refused to call on the National Republican Congressional Committee to stop fundraising off the Benghazi panel, a week after Democrats called that appeal for money by the committee “despicable.”
“I’m involved in this investigation. I’m not involved in what goes on in the campaign committees,” Boehner said. “All I’m trying to do is get to the truth here. Now I’ve got to believe the Democrats are fundraising off Benghazi just like we are.”
“I don’t know what the fundraising arm is doing. All I know is it’s time to get to the truth,” he added.
Boehner is the leading contributor to the NRCC and leads a monthly meeting at the Republican National Committee headquarters where members are briefed on the party’s fundraising efforts.
Boehner addressed a number of other issues in a wide-ranging discussion.
The Speaker has repeatedly touted former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush as a potential candidate. He said Monday that while he isn’t endorsing anyone, he acknowledged he had been “nudging” him toward a run “for some time.”
Boehner gave no ground on his opposition to the Democratic push to raise the minimum wage, arguing that it would cost jobs and prevent people from getting on “the economic ladder.”
While acknowledging that the healthcare law had helped some people gain insurance coverage, Boehner insisted that the worst was yet to come. “I don’t think it’s ever going to work,” he said.
Because of the delays the Obama administration has put in place in implementing portions of the law, he predicted that between 20 million and 40 million people would lose their employer-provided coverage after the 2014 election.
“It’s coming. Oh, it’s coming. It’s like a freight train,” Boehner said. “And the president is trying to distract the angst of the American people from this.”
Still, Boehner said Republican would “entertain” fixes to the healthcare short of full repeal if President Obama and Democrats were willing to work in good faith.
Boehner stood by his decision to back the secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, in the face of Republican calls for his resignation over the department’s healthcare backlog and instances of preventable deaths.
He said the problems at the VA were “systematic” and that a change in leadership would be the easy way out for the White House but that the search for a new secretary would “distract” from the VA’s core problems.
This story was updated at 4:11 p.m.