By Russell Berman - 05/09/14 01:01 PM EDT
Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerIn House GOP, Ryan endorsement of Trump seen as inevitable House GOP faces dilemma on spending bills Overnight Finance: Puerto Rico bill clears panel | IRS chief vows to finish term | Bill would require nominees to release tax returns MORE (R-Ohio) is stacking the House select committee on Benghazi with lawyers as he looks to demonstrate that the panel will be a serious investigation and not a partisan exercise.
The Speaker announced his picks to serve under Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) on the special committee on Friday, selecting a mix of junior and senior members and adding an additional former federal prosecutor in freshman Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Ind.).
Roskam is the highest-ranking member and serves now as the GOP’s chief deputy whip, while Jordan and Westmoreland are staunch conservatives who have been deeply involved in the Benghazi investigations to date. Pompeo is the only military veteran, while Roby led a probe into the Benghazi attack as a subcommittee chairwoman on the House Armed Services Committee.
They will join Gowdy, who served as a prosecutor for 16 years before his election to Congress in 2010.
“This investigation is about getting answers for the families of the victims and for the American people,” Boehner said in a statement. “These members have each demonstrated a commitment to this goal, and I have confidence that they will lead a serious, fact-based inquiry. As I have expressed to each of them, I expect this committee to carry out an investigation worthy of the American lives lost in Benghazi.”
The Speaker also called on Democrats to make their appointments to the panel, although it was unclear on Friday whether they would participate. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) emerged from a meeting with her caucus without a decision, and the Democratic leadership was meeting Friday afternoon to consider a response from Boehner’s office to a letter outlining their concerns about the ratio.
Democrats had wanted an even split of Republicans and Democrats on the panel. But after Boehner rejected that demand, they are instead pushing for a firm commitment that Democrats will have a say in the issuing of subpoenas and calling witnesses.
“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, provide accountability, and help deliver justice,” Boehner said. “It is critical that this committee do its work in a focused, timely manner, so that the House can continue to make the economy and job creation its priorities.”
Rank-and-file Republicans lobbied aggressively in private to be named to the high-profile panel, and Boehner gave assignments to three members of the large GOP class of 2010. Westmoreland is a deputy chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, while Jordan has butted heads with the Speaker as a former chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee.
This post was updated at 2 p.m. to reflect the number of members elected in 2010 on the panel.