Republicans in the House plan to spend $3.3 million to investigate the 2012 attacks on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya, USA Today reports. The budget provides $2.2 million for Republicans and about $1 million for Democrats, giving the majority party the larger share of resources, as is the case with most congressional committee budgets.
Amanda Duvall, a spokeswoman for committee chair Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said the costs are a “high end estimate” and include staff salaries, IT support, technology and “document management for classified information.” Duvall added that the money comes from previously appropriated funds, which means it’s not a new expenditure.
Other House committees with larger rosters and arguably larger mandates than the Benghazi special committee have smaller budgets. The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, for example, has about 10 more staff members and lawmakers and a budget of $3 million for 2014. And since the Benghazi committee first began in May, USA Today estimates that its full year budget will be even larger – about $5 million. That's more than the entire 2014 budget of $4.4 million for the House Intelligence Committee. Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland, the highest-ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, told the paper, “It is unfathomable that House Republicans are spending more taxpayer money per day on this new committee to re-investigate Benghazi than the committee charged with oversight of the entire U.S. intelligence community.”
The special committee was first formed without a set budget and with no deadline for its fact-finding mission. But Politico reports that committee members, under Gowdy’s lead, are already busy hiring staff, planning private meetings and looking at subpoenas from committees that already investigated the attacks. “Obviously, going from not existing to fully functioning takes some time,” Gowdy told Politico. “Hiring staff is widely important but not always terribly exciting from a reader’s or viewer’s standpoint. …. You have to do that before you can fully constitute a committee and start work."
The committee has been a political flashpoint from its very beginning, with Democrats accusing Republicans of forming the panel for political gain. Already, the House and Senate have conducted eight reviews of the attacks that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans. Yet Republicans argue that there is more to uncover. House Speaker John Boehner, who led the formation of the special committee and appointed Gowdy as its leader, told reporters in May, “This is about one issue, and one issue only, and that is getting the truth for the American people and the truth about what happened in Benghazi for the four families who lost their loved ones there."
After much debate within the Democratic caucus, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi agreed in May to her party’s participation in the panel but with clear hesitance. “We hoped that the House Republican leaders would not go down the path forming a select committee,” Pelosi said at a press conference earlier this year. “We’ve already been there.”
So what do you think? Should Congress spend $3.3 million on the Benghazi investigation? Vote and comment below.