Here Are the Winners of the GOP's 2014 Benghazi Select Committee Contest
Ta da! Meet the seven lucky Republicans who will get a seat on the hottest political ticket in town: the Select Committee on Benghazi.
Ta da! Meet the seven lucky Republicans who will get a seat on the hottest political ticket in town: the Select Committee on Benghazi. Announced via a Twitter image from House Speaker John Boehner, they are: Reps. Jim Jordan, Peter Roskam, Martha Roby, Susan Brooks, Mike Pompeo, and Lynn Westmoreland. The GOP leadership previously tapped Rep. Trey Gowdy to chair the committee.
For the seven selected legislators, this is a big deal. The Republican majority seems to see no downside to continuing to create opportunities to discuss Benghazi, which means that basically everyone in the House Majority wanted one of those seven seats. Reps. Ann Wagner, Marsha Blackburn, and Duncan Hunter were among dozens petitioning the leadership for a spot, according to Politico. Although Congress has a ton of standing committees — the House has already held several committee hearings on the Benghazi attacks — special committees have broader investigative powers. The Benghazi committee will effectively take over any other committee investigations into the 2012 attacks, including those of the House Oversight committee. Since Rep. Darrell Issa isn't on the select committee, this means his role as one of the most vocal investigators into the attacks has ended.
There's no end date for the special committee, which is expected to last at least into the fall — prime midterm campaign time, in other words. That could explain some of Boehner's selections. Take first-term Rep. Susan Brooks, who recently won her primary against a challenger supported by some Tea Party groups. And Rep. Jim Jordan has repeatedly clashed with Boehner, who is also from Ohio. His appointment could be a move to placate him. Jordan, a conservative, has been floated as a possible challenger to Boehner's speakership in January. Many of the selectees also served on previous committees involved in Benghazi investigations: Brooks and Jordan are on the Oversight Committee with Gowdy, and Westmoreland and Pompeo are on the Intelligence Committee.
Meanwhile, House Democrats are still waiting for negotiations with Boehner to complete before deciding how to handle the special committee. As it stands, the Democrats have five spaces available for nominees to the committee (the Republicans had seven). And even though it seems as if some Democratic leaders, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, are tempted to just rage-quit the whole thing and nominate no one, the party is not without representatives who are actually pretty into the idea of getting a spot on the panel. Mainly, that's because Republicans will bring in one person in particular to give testimony: former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The absolute least surprising of the group of Democrats who have come forward and volunteered for the panel: Rep. Elijah Cummings. Cummings, who is the ranking member on the House Oversight Committee, is great at political theater. Although those with sensitive eardrums might worry about putting Cummings up against the equally theatrical chair of the new committee, Rep. Gowdy, it makes a lot of sense to have someone like him in the room. As Politico reported, Cummings has said he's the Democrats' man to stand up to Republicans at the hearing.
As of Friday afternoon, negotiations between Pelosi's camp and Boehner's were ongoing. It's presumed that the Democrats will announce their decision once that has completed.