WASHINGTON -- House Democrats are contemplating a strategy they believe would allow them to symbolically boycott Republicans' investigative committee on Benghazi while still keeping tabs on the panel.
The House voted Thursday to launch a select committee to lead an investigation into the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens. The committee was set to have a Republican majority, reflecting the GOP majority in the House, with seven Republicans and five Democrats.
Some Democrats have suggested a boycott of the panel, arguing the committee is just an opportunity for Republicans to spin talking points while Democrats are helpless in the minority. But Democrats also fear they will end up blindsided and ill-prepared for what Republicans throw their way if they aren't part of the investigative committee.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) on Thursday night tried to find a way to satisfy both concerns. The Connecticut Democrat circulated a plan to colleagues encouraging them to appoint just one Democratic representative to the committee. From her "Dear Colleague" letter comes this:
One discussed option is to name a full complement of five Democratic members to monitor and engage in the process. Another discussed option is to fully boycott the committee. Pursuing this option, however, would leave our caucus with no voice to engage in committee proceedings.
If there is a sense of the caucus that we should participate, I suggest you consider a third option: naming just one Democratic member as an official panel participant. Such a participant could maintain Democratic access to committee proceedings and material, question witnesses, monitor the House Majority’s activities and provide a powerful voice to raise issues and make appropriate public comments.
A top Democratic aide in the House said that members were paying attention to the DeLauro proposal, which was discussed informally in prior conversations between members.
As the committee stands, Democrats will be unable to call their own witnesses to testify. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) urged a boycott of the committee, calling the panel a "select committee on talking points."
"They want to go after the current administration. They certainly want to go after Secretary [of State Hillary] Clinton," Schiff told HuffPost. "They really don't make any bones about it. I think most transparent of all is the fact that they are now fundraising off Benghazi. It makes very clear what their real goal is, which is to energize their most conservative base, both to send them money and turn up on Election Day."