By Julian Pecquet - 04/22/13 03:12 PM EDT
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Monday defended his handling of the investigation into last year's attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi amid pressure from his rank-and-file members to form a select committee.
“The reason I haven't called for a select committee yet is that I don't think it's risen to that level," Boehner told Fox News on Monday. "I think the five committees that have jurisdiction over this matter are working closely together. They're getting the job done."
More than half of Boehner's conference — 117 members as of Monday — have signed on to a resolution from Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) calling for the creation of a select committee to probe the events prior to the attack and the Obama administration's response.
“If, at some point, it's necessary to have the select committee, I'll be happy to do it,” he told Fox.
Conservative groups argue the probes by standing committees have been unfocused and are pressuring Boehner to launch the select committee. The special panel's defenders say it would have extraordinary powers to pry information out of the White House and the State Department, which they accuse of stonewalling.
“It is incumbent upon Speaker John Boehner to take the Benghazi select committee resolution to the House floor now that it has the support of the majority of the majority with 117 co-sponsors that run the ideological spectrum,” said David Bossie, the president of Citizens United, whose campaign has netted more than 5,000 letters to Congress.
“Four Americans were murdered by terrorists over seven months ago and we still do not have any accountability because the various investigations by standing committees have been incomplete and unfocused," he said.
He also noted that parents of two of those killed in the Benghazi attack support the formation of a select committee.
Boehner and the leaders of the five committees – Oversight, Foreign Affairs, Armed Services, Intelligence and Judiciary – say the formation of a select committee would be a waste of time and money.
Boehner said some committees have reached out to witnesses wounded in the attack that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
“We'll see more of this in the progress report, but we're going to see more in a way of hearings here,” he said. “This is a progress report. And we've got a lot more that we need … to learn about this.
“I've been concerned about this since last September. I don't think that we've gotten to the bottom of what did the State Department know; when did they know it; why they didn't take action?" he said. "And then, during the attack itself, why weren't assets brought in? Why wasn't our government doing more to protect the Americans who were on the ground?”