It’s official: There is now a special Benghazi committee in the House of Representatives.
Lawmakers in the House passed a bill on Thursday to establish the new committee to investigate the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya that left four Americans dead, including Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya.
Last week, Speaker of the House John Boehner ordered the establishment of the committee to investigate the attacks. On Monday, Boehner announced that he is tapping South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy to serve as chairman of the select committee hearings.
The establishment of the committee comes after months of encouragement from Republicans.
Boehner long resisted these calls from members of his party to establish a select committee but gave in after emails released last week indicated that the White House played a bigger role than previously admitted in crafting the now-debunked initial talking points on the attacks.
“After ignoring for nearly a year a lawful Congressional subpoena, the White House – under court order – finally released e-mails showing that Administration officials deliberately and deceptively misled Americans, claiming the attack in Benghazi was the result of an offensive internet video, rather than the product of a failed foreign policy that allowed radical Islamic terrorists to flourish in post-Qaddafi Libya,” House majority leader Eric Cantor said on Thursday.
Added the Virginia Republican: “This obfuscation and refusal to come clean to Congress has left us as well as the people of this country wondering what else is the White House hiding?”
Democrats have argued that the investigations are partisan-driven and meant to try to harm former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ahead of a likely run for president in 2016.
Maryland Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings went as far as to say Stevens would not have wanted his death to be used for political purposes, citing quotes from the ambassador’s family.
“Unfortunately, that is what House Republicans have been doing for the last year and a half,” Cummings said.
The bill allows Boehner to appoint 12 members to the select committee, five of whom are Democrats chosen by House minority leader Nancy Pelosi.
But some liberals have been pushing for House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi to not appoint any Democrats to the hearings.
“Member of Congress told me she will urge Nancy Pelosi to appoint NO Democrats to Special Benghazi Committee,” liberal talk radio host Bill Press wrote on Twitter on Monday. “She’s right!”
The bill text says the Select Committee is “authorized and directed to conduct a full and complete investigation and study and issue a final report of its findings to the House.”
Among the topics the committee is tasked with investigating: “all policies, decisions, and activities that contributed to the attacks on United States facilities in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012, as well as those that affected the ability of the United States to prepare for the attacks.”