WASHINGTON — House Republicans on Thursday rammed through a new investigation of the deadly assault in Benghazi, Libya, vowing to pursue questions old and new in a search for truth. Democrats rejected the inquiry as a political ploy to raise campaign cash and motivate voters.
Lawmakers from Nevada split along partisan lines, as did the House generally in the 232-186 vote to create a select committee to examine the attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans on Sept. 11, 2012.
It will be the eighth probe into the attack.
Previous probes have faulted the State Department for inadequate security, but Republicans say the Obama administration misled the American people about the attack during a presidential election and have not fully cooperated with Congress.
“Any time four Americans are killed in the line of duty in a U.S. consulate in a foreign country, Americans want to know what happened,” said Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., who voted for the investigation. “Unfortunately there’s been a version of the month for nearly two years now and the trickle of new emails coming to light does nothing to assuage concerns about the State Department, the Department of Defense, the CIA and the administration.”
“This is just a witch hunt,” said Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., who voted against the new investigation and noted there have been seven before now. “This is just an attempt to do some kind of playing to the base instead of taking care of business like immigration reform, minimum wage, unemployment insurance that now are on the back burner.”
Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., also voted against the investigation, while Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., voted for it.
Attention now turns to who might be appointed to the panel, which will be headed by Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., a former federal prosecutor. It would consist of six other Republicans and five Democrats, although Democratic leaders have not decided whether they will participate or boycott.
Heck, who sits on the House Armed Services and House Intelligence committees, has been serving on an informal Benghazi task force set up by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. The group has been comparing the testimonies gathered by Republican probes to date, looking for holes and inconsistencies.
“Because one committee hears one story and another committee hears another story, we want to make sure the stories mesh,” Heck said in an interview. He said the group has spotted “several inconsistencies” but did not elaborate.
Heck said he would serve on the special panel if asked but was not seeking it out.
“I’ve already seen much of the information, so I think it would be a much shallower learning curve for somebody like me, but it’s up to the speaker,” Heck said. “If I’m asked to serve, I will. If not, no big deal.”
Amodei is not interested, focused instead on his work as a new member of the House Appropriations Committee, his spokesman Brian Baluta said.
All four of Nevada’s representatives are seeking re-election this year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at STetreault@stephensmedia.com or 202-783-1760. Find him on Twitter: @STetreaultDC.