Dem whip: ‘Vote no’ on Benghazi panel

The House Democratic whip on Monday said he will be urging members of his party to vote against the creation of a special panel to probe the deadly 2012 attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

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Rep. Steny Hoyer (Md.) said he'll oppose the measure to create the subcommittee, and predicted that other Democratic leaders would join him in opposing it.

"We will urge members to vote no on it," Hoyer said during a press briefing in the Capitol. "But, again, we haven't seen the language, we don't know what kind of committee they're talking about."

Hoyer accused Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) of caving to the conservative base in pushing the select committee. He noted that Boehner was opposed to such a special panel as recently as last month, and charged he is reversing course for strictly political ends.

"Political pressure of the base and people who simply want to, for political sake solely, pursue this matter apparently have prevailed upon the Speaker to change his mind," Hoyer said.

Hoyer emphasized that Democrats are waiting to see the details of how the special committee would operate. But he was equally clear that he and other Democratic leaders think the panel is extraneous in light of the long and ongoing investigation by Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, led by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).

"We think the committee is unnecessary. … [They're] gonna spend taxpayer money for doing something that they've already spent taxpayer money to do," he said. "Our view is that we've done that [and] we don't believe the administration covered it up. And we believe that this is political only."

Hoyer said there's nothing the special committee can find that Issa's Oversight Committee hasn't.

"Either they think Issa is a competent chairman and has been pursuing a competent investigation, or they don't," Hoyer said. "He's had subpoena power. He has pushed numerous hearings, … and in my view has found no smoking gun, no wrong-doing.

"They've been able to find out anything that they needed to find out," Hoyer added.

Republicans disagree.

Although Boehner had long pushed back against those in his conference calling for a special panel to investigate the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks — which left four Americans dead, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya — he had a change of heart on Friday after the disclosure of a White House email the Republicans consider evidence that administration officials knew much more about the attack than previously stated.

Boehner praised Issa's work, but said more needs to be done.

"The House committees that have been investigating this attack have done extraordinary work, using their subpoena power, holding dozens of hearings, and conducting hundreds of interviews. Without this work we would not know much that we do today," Boehner said Friday in a statement. "But it’s clear that questions remain, and the administration still does not respect the authority of Congress to provide proper oversight."

On Monday, Boehner tapped Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), a former federal prosecutor, to head the select committee.

Boehner and the Republicans have not revealed the details of how the special committee would operate, though a vote to create the panel could come as early as this week.

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