House Votes to Create Select Committee on Benghazi

On Thursday evening, the House of Representatives voted to create a select committee to examine the September 11, 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya that left four Americans dead. The vote was 232-186. Seven Democrats voted in favor of it, and no Republican voted against it. The resolution creating the panel authorizes it to investigate a wide range of topics related to the attack, including its causes and the American response to it. The resolution specifically authorizes the committee to examine whether the Executive Branch has cooperated with congressional inquiries on the matter—a major sticking point for some Republicans who say that the Obama Administration misled the American public about its handling of the crisis. The committee is required to issue a report of its findings at the end of its investigations.

Representative Trey Gowdy of South Carolina has been named as Chairman of the Committee. Republicans will have six additional seats on the panel. Democrats are entitled to five spots, but some have floated the idea of boycotting it, saying that the committee is a partisan stunt. Representative Gerry Connolly of Virginia said that the Democrats had moved in favor of participating, the path championed by Representative Henry Waxman of California, a long-time Member who is experienced in investigations. Another Democrat, Representative Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, suggested that they only name one Member to the Committee, so the party could register its protest but still participate in hearings and obtain documents. As of Friday morning, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said that the Democratic Caucus had not yet determined how they would proceed.

National Journal: Republicans Have Created Their Benghazi Select Committee. Now What?

Roll Call: Democrats Consider Naming Just One Member to Benghazi Committee

Associated Press: Pelosi Says House Dems Divided on Benghazi Probe

Washington Post: Benghazi: How To Do the Hearings Right

Poll: Citizens Think Their Influence Greatest at Local Level, But Changes Needed at Federal Level

An Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll has found that Americans believe it is easiest to make changes in their local communities and that the most stable reforms to society will come from average citizens. At the same time, to make large-scale reforms to society, change at the Federal level is necessary, respondents said. “These bookended findings point to deep public reserves of both engagement and alienation. On the one hand, they suggest that many Americans see great opportunities for ordinary citizens to make a difference, particularly at the local level, on the biggest challenges facing the country. On the other, they indicate that most Americans believe those challenges can’t be truly tamed without changes in the major public and private institutions that people broadly distrust and consider unresponsive to their concerns”, Ronald Brownstein writes. When asked whether the United States needs “major changes”, 70 percent of respondents agreed.

National Journal: Of the People, By the People, For the People

And for our latest post: Using the “Pen and Phone” to Blur the Separation of Powers