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Friday, December 9, 2016

House Republicans still consumed by uncovering a Benghazi scandal now plan to spend up to $3.3 million to investigate the 2012 attack, according to a document obtained by USA Today from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

According to the document, $2.2 million will go to the seven Republicans serving on the select committee, and just over $1 million will go to the five Democrats.

The investigation is the latest attempt to unearth the conspiracy that the GOP claims the Obama administration — specifically President Barack Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — orchestrated in the wake of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya in September 2012. Over the past two years, Republicans have launched seven investigations to prove criminal wrongdoing on the administration’s part, but their efforts have been unsuccessful. The GOP’s failure to prove its claims has already cost taxpayers millions of dollars. Meanwhile, Democrats argue that Republicans are using the tragic event for their party’s own political gain.

House Republicans are now planning to spend more for their next investigation than many other key House committees receive in a year. The House Veterans Affairs Committee, which comprises 25 lawmakers and is investigating the widespread problems related to the Department of Veterans Affairs, was granted a budget of only $3 million. The House Ethics Committee, too, has a budget of only $3 million.

Also, as USA Today points out, because the Benghazi select committee was actually formed in May, its full-year budget would exceed $5 million, which is greater than the $4.4 million budget granted to the House Intelligence Committee.

Representative Trey Gowdy (R-SC), who heads the select committee, argues that the budget is necessary because the Benghazi panel will require more resources — like greater staffing and travel means — than other committees. Those resources will, however, be used by Gowdy and Republicans to re-ask all the same questions that have already been answered in previous Benghazi probes. As the Huffington Post notes, the three questions essential to Gowdy’s investigation have already come up in previous Benghazi inquiries:

1. “Why was security lacking during the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in the U.S.?”
2. “Why weren’t military units moving to support consulate personnel?”
3. “Why were references to ‘terrorist’ and ‘attacks’ edited out of the Obama administration’s talking points?”

Additionally, Gowdy has said he would like to know why the U.S. was still in Benghazi at the time of the attack, and exactly where the president was on the night of the attack; these, too, have already been asked and answered.

While Gowdy and the six other Republicans serving on the committee question the Obama administration’s role in Benghazi, they ignore that just a year before the Benghazi attack, Secretary Clinton warned that GOP-backed cuts to the U.S. State Department would be “detrimental to America’s national security.” Still, in June 2011, Republicans — two of whom, Reps. Jim Jordan (OH) and Martha Roby (AL), now serve on Gowdy’s panel — voted in favor of a bill that would have limited the use of funds to support NATO operations in Libya. That same month, House Republicans — including Gowdy and the five other GOP lawmakers on the committee — also blocked a bill that would have authorized the limited use of U.S. Armed Forces in Libya.

In 2012, Republicans proposed cuts to the Obama administration’s requested embassy security budget, and in 2013 — even in the midst of their Benghazi outcry — House Republicans again backed decreased funding for the State Department’s Worldwide Security Program.

Despite their refusal to support the cost of increasing U.S. security overseas, Republicans today have no problem spending additional millions to re-investigate the type of attack that such security could have prevented. If Gowdy and his fellow Republicans’ focus is truly on ensuring that an attack like the one that occurred in Benghazi never happens again, perhaps it would be more fiscally responsible to invest the millions of dollars currently going to the Benghazi committee somewhere that could actually help prepare for or even prevent future attacks.

Of course, this investment would force the House GOP to go silent on an issue it believes could stain Democrats ahead of the 2014 midterm elections, and Clinton before the 2016 presidential election. After all, those are the true objectives of this expensive, taxpayer-funded investigation.

Photo: House GOP via Flickr

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