Cummings Issues Statement on House Floor Opposing Republican Select Committee on Benghazi
Washington, D.C. (May 8, 2014)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, spoke on the House floor in opposition to the Republican resolution to establish a new “select committee” to investigate the attacks in Benghazi.
When introducing his resolution on the House floor today, House Speaker John Boehner stated: “This doesn’t need to be, shouldn’t be,and will not be a partisan process.”
Ranking Member Cummings then issued the following response:
Statement of Rep. Elijah E. Cummings
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform U.S. House of Representatives
I rise in strong opposition to this resolution. Benghazi was a tragedy. We lost four brave Americans that night, and I extend my deepest sympathies to their families.
In my opinion, we honor their memories best by bringing their killers to justice and by working in a bipartisan way to strengthen security for all U.S. personnel overseas. As family members of Ambassador Stevens have stated, “What Chris never would have accepted was the idea that his death would be used for political purposes.”
Unfortunately, that is what House Republicans have been doing for the last year and a half.
On April 23, 2013, the Republican Chairmen of five different House Committees issued a highly partisan staff report with absolutely no consultation or input from a single Democratic Member of the Congress of the United States of America. Their report included a reckless accusation that Secretary Clinton personally authorized security reductions in Benghazi. Chairman Issa then went on national television and said Secretary Clinton “outright denied security, in her signature, in a cable.”
When we located that cable, however, we discovered that the Republican report distorted the facts. The cable had only a printed stamp of Secretary Clinton’s name—the same stamp that appears on hundreds of thousands of cables sent from the State Department every year.
This report was issued under the direction of the Speaker. It was posted on his website. And it was prepared only for Members of the House Republican Conference. How is this a bipartisan search for the truth?
House Republicans have also excluded Democratic Members from fact-finding delegations to Libya—in violation of the rules issued by the Speaker. How is that bipartisan?
Democratic Members have been denied equal access to witnesses, and Republicans have selectively leaked documents and cherry-picked transcript excerpts without any official committee consideration. How is that bipartisan?
Republicans have also been doing something worse. They have been using the deaths of these four Americans for political campaign fundraising. I call on the Speaker of the House to end that process right now.
For example, on February 17, Chairman Issa traveled to New Hampshire to attend a political fundraiser, where he spoke about Benghazi. He suggested during his speech that our military’s response on the night of the attacks was deficient because Secretary Clinton ordered Defense Secretary Panetta to “stand down.” That was a shocking accusation, and he had absolutely no evidence – none – to support it. In my opinion, his statements were reprehensible—not only to the Secretary of State, but to our brave men and women in uniform.
And so, today, we are here to consider a resolution to create yet another partisan committee to investigate what the Speaker and his five Chairmen have already been investigating.
With all due respect, if the Republicans want to fix the problems with their partisan investigation, they need more than just a new chairman.
I have tremendous respect for Mr. Gowdy, and I am glad that he said that the fundraising should not be done on the deaths of these four people. And I hope that the Republican Conference will finally agree with that. We are better than that.
Click here to see a Fact Sheet with examples of the partisan House Republican investigations to date.
Click here to see video of Ranking Member Cummings’ statement.