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The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, led by Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., right, considers whether to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 20, 2012. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the ranking member, speaks at left. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, led by Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., right, considers whether to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 20, 2012. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the ranking member, speaks at left. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)  

House oversight Democrats unite to claim Libya hearing is partisan

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Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

House Democrats are trying to portray Republican Rep. Darrell Issa’s investigation into the Sept. 11 Benghazi jihad-attack as a partisan hit-job.

Libya “is an inherently unstable situation. … I certainly hope today’s hearing is not going to be perceived as effort to exploit a tragedy 27 days out from an election,” said Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia.

“I’m disappointed,” said ranking chairman Rep. Elijah Cummings. The alternative to a partisan investigation is a “thorough and responsible investigation,” he said, plus a $2.5 billion per year tax increase on oil companies to fund more diplomatic security efforts.

The proposed tax increase on the oil-exploration companies is a standard demand by Democrats, including President Barack Obama, and has been repeatedly opposed by GOP legislators.

The claims of partisanship are likely intended to blunt the political damage caused by the hearing into the deadly Benghazi attack.

Obama’s poll ratings have been hit as the public learns more about the September attack that killed the U.S. ambassador, a State Department official and two former soldiers.

Chairman Issa has not shared documents with Democratic panel-members, and gave too little warning to Democrats to join a committee trip to Libya, Cummings claimed, adding that the Republicans majority on the committee is “resorting to petty abuses.”

Cummings also charged Issa with violating a House rule by not providing Democrats with immediate access to witnesses and documents.

However, when asked about the claimed violation by Issa, Cummings was unable to identify the rule that the GOP members supposedly violated.

The Democrats’ claims of partisanship was backed by Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who announced at the start of the hearing that GOP’s budget for 2013 “increase[s] the budget of the defense department [but] slashes the the budget that would have protected these diplomats.”

Issa responded by saying that more Democrats — including Cummings — voted for the budget than did Republicans.

Libya “is an inherently unstable situation,” claimed Connolly. “No good is done to the security of the United States to politicize this tragedy.”

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