Republicans are 'not giving up' on Benghazi

Republican lawmakers are vowing to keep pressing the administration on Benghazi despite Susan Rice’s decision to drop her bid to become secretary of State.

“We'll continue to seek answers,” a Republican Senate aide told The Hill. “We're not giving up on it.”

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Rice’s decision to step aside averted a contentious confirmation fight with Republican senators that might have pointed to an end to the political battle over the U.S. consulate attack. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations had become the flash-point for criticism since describing the deadly attack as a protest gone awry three months ago.

Rice’s decision came as the Obama administration has been seeking to mend bridges with lawmakers who have felt deprived of information about the attack. The administration had planned to send Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to testify on Capitol Hill next week about the attack.

However, the State Department said Saturday that Clinton fainted and suffered a concussion after becoming dehydrated due to a stomach virus. She will not testify before House and Senate panels. 

Clinton deputies Tom Nides and Bill Burns will testify in her place.

Republicans had promised tough questions for Clinton, and assert they’ll continue to hold the administration’s feet to the fire over how terrorists could have launched a successful attack on the U.S. consulate that left U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three others dead.

“We're not going to let this go,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Rice's most prominent critic along with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), vowed on Fox News after her decision was made public. “How could, for seven hours, nobody come to the aid of the people during the attack? Why did we leave the consulate open? Where was the president when the British decided to close their consulate in June? And afterwards, how did the intelligence get so screwed up, for lack of a better word?

“So we're going to keep pressing this so we can learn from it and not have it happen again,” Graham said.

McCain made the same promise through his spokesman.

“He will continue to seek all the facts about what happened before, during and after the attack on our consulate in Benghazi that killed four brave Americans,” Brian Rogers said in a statement.

And Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), the incoming chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, also made it clear he has unanswered questions.

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“We expect the secretary of State to come and answer some questions that frankly have been asked by the media and the House and the Senate,” Royce told Fox News. “There are real answers to be given here.”

The Senate remains in Democratic hands however. And in the House, action will largely depend on Rep. Darrell Issa's (R-Calif.) desire to make Benghazi a priority of his oversight committee, which has subpoena power.

Issa held a hearing on security lapses in Benghazi in October and has requested numerous diplomatic cables and other internal State Department documents, but he has largely stayed silent about the Benghazi attack since the election. His office did not return a request for comment Friday.

Clinton is expected to brief the House and Senate foreign affairs panels about the findings of the independent panel reviewing security lapses in Libya on the day of the September 11 attack and in the days before it.

The State Department vowed Friday that the report would be ready in time after a spokeswoman cast doubts on the timetable the day before, prompting grumblings from lawmakers.

“Right now we anticipate that the ARB [Accountability Review Board] will complete its work early next week,” State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said at Friday's briefing. “The committees have announced that the secretary will be on the Hill next Thursday, and so that's the plan.”

--This report was originally published at 12:00 p.m. and last updated at 3:24 p.m.

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