House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Friday rejected Republicans' latest proposal for how the body's select committee on Benghazi will operate, potentially putting Democratic participation in the process in jeopardy.
Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, said in a letter to House Speaker John A. Boehner that his staff's latest outline of the committee's operations is "fundamentally unfair."
Mr. Boehner, Ohio Republican, rejected a plea earlier in the week from Mrs. Pelosi and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, Maryland Democrat, to divide the committee equally between the two parties, but Democrats are still seeking assurances that they'll have a say on subpoenas, depositions, and how information will be released by committee members and staff.
"Regrettably, the proposal does not prevent the unacceptable and repeated abuses committed by Chairman Issa in any meaningful way, and we find it fundamentally unfair," Mrs. Pelosi wrote.
She said she looks forward to meeting with Mr. Boehner and that she's hopeful an agreement can be reached.
Boehner spokesman Michael Steel responded by saying they made a fair offer and they hope Democrats appoint members.
"At this point, it's time to get to work," he said.
Mr. Boehner announced the seven GOP members of the committee Friday, which include Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, who will be the chairman, and Reps. Susan Brooks of Indiana, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Mike Pompeo of Kansas, Martha Roby of Alabama, Peter Roskam of Illinois and Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia.
"I expect this committee to carry out an investigation worthy of the American lives lost in Benghazi," Mr. Boehner said in a statement. "I also urge my Democratic colleagues to treat this tragedy with the proper respect and appoint members so that we can finally, on a bipartisan basis, get answers."
The House voted Thursday to establish the select investigative committee, though just seven Democrats joined with the GOP in backing the move. Democratic leaders said the investigation was likely to be tinged by partisanship and said it was unnecessary, given the other probes that have already taken place both within the administration and on Capitol Hill, such as hearings held by the Oversight and Government Reform Committee chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican.
But with the committee now a reality, Democrats are still grappling with whether to take part. Mrs. Pelosi had initially asked for equal representation from Democrats and Republicans on the committee, but the GOP rejected that, creating a panel that will include seven Republicans and five Democrats.
Mrs. Pelosi told reporters earlier Friday that there must be "standards" for Democrats who would sit on the committee with respect to concurrence on issuing subpoenas, decisions on deposing and interviewing witnesses, and decisions to release any report, document, or information by the committee or by committee staff.
Minutes later, Mr. Boehner and Mrs. Pelosi were seen talking on the House floor.
Jay Carney, White House press secretary, said Friday that it's up to Mrs. Pelosi to determine if Democrats will participate.
"I think it's unfortunate that House Republicans continue to pursue this in a highly partisan manner, in fact they themselves have acknowledge how political this is, how oriented it is to raise money and motivate its base for a midterm election," he said on MSNBC.
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