7 Repubs, 5 Dems for Benghazi select committee

Politico reports that Speaker Boehner has decided on the partisan split of the Select Committee on Benghazi. It will be 7 Republicans and 5 Democrats.

That’s a fair split given the Republicans’ majority status in the House. As Politico points out, there are very few House committees that are evenly split. The Ethics Committee is one.

Nonetheless, Nancy Pelosi had demanded an even split of 6-6. She claimed that with any other division, the Committee would not be bipartisan. That’s an odd position given the Dems’ frequent claim of bipartisan agreement if even one or two Republicans join with them. Moreover, as John noted, Pelosi herself ordered a 9-6 split in favor of the Democrats for a Global Warming Committee she established in 2007.

With a 6-6 split, the Dems could, I imagine, have voted down various orders and procedures called for by the Republicans, including subpoenas. Boehner was wise, in any event, to insist on a Republican majority.

The Democrats have the option of not participating in the Committee at all, on the pretext — if any if is needed — that the Committee is not properly bipartisan. As I argued yesterday, however, this would be an unwise move for the Dems.

Pelosi did have Democrats refuse to participate in a 2005 select committee appointed by the Republican-controlled House to investigate the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina. But on that occasion, the Republicans were playing defense and running against the tide of public opinion. Pelosi was probably wise not to be a party to it.

This time, with the Republicans playing offense and having already gained the public’s attention to some degree, the Democrats would probably be well-advised to stand in their way rather than abandoning the playing field.

I hope there will be Dems on the panel. I’ll want to use their questioning time to check sports scores, get snacks, or go to the bathroom.


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