Conservatives move to force Boehner’s hand for Benghazi investigation

Conservatives move to force Boehner’s hand for Benghazi investigation

Republican leaders are coming under new pressure from conservatives to allow a House vote on legislation that would form a special committee to investigate the Benghazi, Libya, attack.

Rep. Steve StockmanStephen (Steve) Ernest StockmanFormer aide sentenced for helping ex-congressman in fraud scheme Former congressman sentenced to 10 years in prison for campaign finance scheme Rising expectations could change North Korea forever MORE (R-Texas) is circulating a discharge petition that would force GOP leaders to allow a House vote on forming a committee to investigate events leading up to the terrorist attack last year on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, as well as the Obama administration’s response.

Conservative lawmakers have been pressing for the creation of a special committee, but GOP leaders have resisted, arguing existing panels can investigate the incident on their own.

If Stockman can get 218 House members to support his discharge petition, it would force a vote on the House floor.

Discharge petitions are very rarely introduced by members of the party that’s in power.

They invariably infuriate leadership since they’re a way to get around the scheduling process for bills, which is controlled by the majority leader, in this case, Rep. Eric CantorEric Ivan CantorGOP faces tough battle to become 'party of health care' 737 crisis tests Boeing's clout in Washington House Republicans find silver lining in minority MORE (R-Va.).

To promote his effort, Stockman, an outspoken freshman, will unveil on Tuesday a 60-foot-long scroll signed by 1,000 special operations veterans who support the select committee. Supporters tout it as the largest petition ever presented to Congress, and Stockman plans to unroll it down the Capitol’s steps.

“The only way we’re going to get a clean and thorough investigation is by forcing a vote with a discharge petition,” Stockman said in announcing his plan last week.

The only Republican to introduce a discharge petition during the last Congress was Rep. Louie GohmertLouis (Louie) Buller GohmertAnnual 'Will on the Hill' pokes fun at 2020 race Annual 'Will on the Hill' pokes fun at 2020 race Democrats, Republicans in Congress spar over state abortion laws MORE (R-Texas).

Two years ago, Gohmert fought for a vote on his bipartisan bill exempting military salaries from negotiations to avert a government shutdown in 2011 after it stalled in the Armed Services and Transportation and Infrastructure committees. His discharge petition got 30 signatures, and the bill died in committee.

Gohmert was an early co-sponsor of the Benghazi select committee legislation and is scheduled to appear alongside Stockman on Tuesday. Former Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), who lost reelection, is also slated to appear.

Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerTed Cruz, AOC have it right on banning former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists Ted Cruz, AOC have it right on banning former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists Rep. Amash stokes talk of campaign against Trump MORE (R-Ohio) and other GOP leaders say current panels are doing a fine job with oversight on Benghazi.

“Four committees are heavily involved in this,” BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerTed Cruz, AOC have it right on banning former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists Ted Cruz, AOC have it right on banning former members of Congress from becoming lobbyists Rep. Amash stokes talk of campaign against Trump MORE told Fox News in May after State Department officials criticized the administration’s response the night of the attack.

“I don’t think at this point in time that it’s necessary. Now, we may get to a point where it is. But at this point, I think our committees are doing a very good job, and I’m going to be supportive of them.”

Some 160 lawmakers have signed on to a resolution from Rep. Frank WolfFrank Rudolph WolfDOJ opinion will help protect kids from dangers of online gambling Vulnerable Republican keeps focus as Democrats highlight Trump Bolton could be the first national security chief to prioritize religious freedom MORE (R-Va.) calling for a select committee. The resolution has been stuck since January in the Rules Committee, which is controlled by Boehner ally Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas).

Wolf has said that Boehner would be “complicit” in an Obama administration “cover-up” if he does not allow for the creation of a select committee.

Wolf and Stockman did not return requests for comment.

Several senators — notably John McCainJohn Sidney McCain#JohnMcCainDay trends on Trump's 73rd birthday #JohnMcCainDay trends on Trump's 73rd birthday New poll finds little GOP support for spending cuts to specific federal programs MORE (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamTrump wishes 'Happy Father's Day to all,' including 'worst and most vicious critics' Trump wishes 'Happy Father's Day to all,' including 'worst and most vicious critics' Election security bills face GOP buzzsaw MORE (R-S.C.) — have also personally urged Boehner to reconsider his position after a State Department official testified that the embassy knew from the start that the assault in Benghazi was a terrorist attack. Some Republicans have accused President Obama of deliberately misleading voters about the attack to preserve his national security credentials ahead of the November presidential election.

“I’ve raised it to him; I’ve talked to him. It’s his decision to make, but we’re making a big mistake by not doing a select committee,” Graham told The Hill in May. “We’ve communicated a lot, but we should probably do more in light of the building momentum in the House.”

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has taken the lead in investigating the attack that killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans Sept. 11, 2012. Four other committees collaborated on an interim report in April that did little to placate Boehner’s critics.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee had been scheduled to hold a hearing with a State Department official who says he was unfairly punished after the attack while higher-ups were left alone. Stockman, a member of the panel, introduced his discharge petition last week after Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) postponed the hearing until after the August recess.

This story was posted at 11:38 a.m. and updated at 4:47 p.m. and 7:25 p.m.


Please send tips and comments to Julian Pecquet: jpecquet@thehill.com

Follow us on Twitter: @TheHillGlobal and @JPecquetTheHill