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Ranking Democratic Members to Speaker Boehner: Don’t Politicize Our National Security with Partisan Benghazi Report

Apr 23, 2013
Press Release
Top Democrats Call on Boehner to Work in Bipartisan Manner

Washington, DC— Today, the Ranking Members of the Committees on the Judiciary, Oversight and Government Reform, Foreign Affairs, Armed Services, and Intelligence sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner strongly objecting to his decision to issue a partisan Republican staff report on Benghazi without any vetting for accuracy or consideration by Committee Members.  The full letter follows:

April 23, 2013

The Honorable John Boehner
Speaker
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Mr. Speaker:

            We are writing to strongly object to your decision to issue a partisan Republican staff report on Benghazi and dispense with House procedures for vetting official committee reports to correct inaccuracies and mischaracterizations.  By abandoning regular order and excluding Democratic Members entirely from this process, you are unnecessarily politicizing our national security and casting aside the system used by the House for generations to avoid making obvious mistakes, errors, and omissions. 

Each of our committees has adopted rules governing the consideration, vetting, and adoption of official committee reports.  They require that our Committee Members receive copies of proposed investigative reports several days before they are taken up for consideration, that our Committees approve reports at official business meetings with a quorum present, and that all of our Committee Members have the ability to file supplemental, minority, or additional views.[1] 

The purpose of these rules is to ensure that any report issued by our Committees has been subjected to at least a minimal level of consideration, debate, and substantive review.  These procedures provide all Members—including both Republicans and Democrats—with the opportunity to review drafts, evaluate evidence including documents and interview transcripts, and propose amendments during regular business meetings to ensure that statements of fact are accurate and that conclusions are fully supported. 

We are concerned that by issuing this staff report with only five Republican Committee Chairmen, you are sacrificing accuracy in favor of partisanship.  You have stated repeatedly over the past several months that “It’s time for us to get back to regular order here in Congress.”[2]  Yet, recent press accounts indicate that you are abandoning regular order on Benghazi and choosing to pursue this highly partisan approach because you are “trying to head off a GOP rebellion” over the way this investigation has been handled.[3] 

Although staff reports may be appropriate in some circumstances, we do not believe a partisan staff report should be used in this case, which involves the death of a U.S. Ambassador and three other Americans and is based on sensitive and classified national security information.  For all of these reasons, we urge you to abandon this partisan political approach to our country’s national security and work with us in a bipartisan manner going forward.

 

Sincerely,

John Conyers, Jr.                                            

Ranking Member

Committee on the Judiciary    

 

Elijah E. Cummings

Ranking Member

Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

 

Eliot L. Engel                                                   

Ranking Member                                             

Committee on Foreign Affairs                        

 

Adam Smith

Ranking Member

Committee on  Armed Services

 

C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger

Ranking Member

Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

 

cc:        The Honorable Bob Goodlatte, Committee on the Judiciary

The Honorable Darrell E. Issa, Chairman, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

The Honorable Ed Royce, Chairman, Committee on Foreign Affairs

The Honorable Buck McKeon, Chairman, Committee on Armed Services

            The Honorable Mike Rogers, Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence

113th Congress