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Democrats Still Undecided on Benghazi Committee Response

On the Benghazi panel, Israel said Democrats are waiting on Speaker Boehner (Tom Williams/Roll Call File Photo)
On the Benghazi panel, Israel said Democrats are waiting on Speaker Boehner (Tom Williams/Roll Call File Photo)

Despite several private meetings on the issue, House Democrats remained undecided Friday morning about how to respond to the GOP’s special investigative committee formed to investigate the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya.  

Initial reports coming out of the room at a caucus meeting Friday morning signaled that they were far from reaching consensus about whether to fully engage, ignore the committee altogether — or something in between.  

From rank-and-filers such as Rep. Gerald Connolly of Virginia to members of leadership such as Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel of New York, the line was, “We’re still waiting on the speaker.” Staff to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, have been in talks to determine whether there is a way for Democrats to participate and be assured some say in issuing subpoenas and other issues controlled by the majority, given that Republicans can appoint seven members to the panel and Democrats are only allowed five.  

“They’re asking for assurances on process, some reasonable some not, nothing that would change the text of the resolution,” said a GOP leadership aide.  

Members coming out of the Democratic meeting said they were waiting to hear back from Boehner, which might ultimately be a way for Democrats to buy more time as they themselves hash out whether it’s most politically expedient to be inside the room to rebuff Republicans or protest the exercise as a stunt by boycotting it from afar.  

Another suggestion, floated late Thursday night in a letter to colleagues from Democratic Steering and Policy Committee Co-Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., is that Democrats stage a partial boycott and appoint only one member to liaison between the Republicans on the Benghazi committee and the Democratic Caucus.  

Boehner is expected to name the GOP appointees Friday afternoon.