Benghazi Committee Passes $5 Million Mark
WASHINGTON— The Select Committee on Benghazi has now spent more than $5 million taxpayer dollars and 79 weeks on its abusive, wasteful, and partisan efforts. The Select Committee continues to spend an average of about $8,000 dollars per day and appears to be continuing into the 2016 election year.
Despite widespread criticism of its efforts to date, including from conservative Republicans, the Select Committee is now scheduling a lavish and expensive new congressional delegation to Italy and other European destinations. It is unclear how much this trip will cost the American taxpayers.
In addition to these funds, the State Department reported spending $14 million to date on responding to years of congressional investigations regarding the Benghazi attacks, including producing tens of thousands of pages of documents and making dozens of witnesses available for scores of hearings, interviews, and briefings.
In a letter to Congress on March 11, 2014, the Defense Department stated it has “devoted thousands of man-hours to responding to the numerous and often repetitive congressional requests regarding Benghazi.” The Department estimated that the total costs it has expended during previous congressional reviews ran “into the millions of dollars.”
The Select Committee’s $5 million price tag also does not include taxpayer funds spent by Congress on the investigations conducted by the seven previous congressional committees, including the House Committees on Oversight, Armed Services, Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, and Judiciary, or the Senate Committees on Intelligence and Homeland Security.
Ranking Member Elijah Cummings released the following statement:
“In the 11-hour marathon hearing with Secretary Clinton, Republicans showed the world that the Benghazi Select Committee is a taxpayer-funded fishing expedition to derail Secretary Clinton’s presidential campaign – and that their net came up empty. The Republicans will never resuscitate the credibility of this Committee, and they certainly won’t do so by traveling to Italy on the taxpayers’ dime.”
The Benghazi Select Committee has surpassed multiple previous congressional investigations, including the investigations of Hurricane Katrina, the attack on Pearl Harbor, the assassination of President Kennedy, Iran-Contra, Church Committee, and Watergate.
The Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities (The Church Committee) was created on January 21, 1975 to investigate domestic intelligence activities discovered in the course of the Watergate investigation.
In the year and three months of its investigation, the Church Committee interviewed 800 witnesses, conducted 250 executive and 21 public hearings, and released a final report with 96 recommendations to reform the intelligence community. The Church Committee’s primary recommendation and accomplishment was the creation of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
The Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities (Watergate) was created on February 7, 1973 to investigate and study illegal or improper campaign activities in the presidential election of 1972.
In the 72 weeks of its investigation, the Watergate Committee conducted 137 days of hearings with hundreds of witnesses, a sharp contrast to the Benghazi Committee’s only four hearings, 55 interviews and depositions. The Watergate Committee’s final 3,000 page report was issued 506 days after its inception.
Benghazi Republicans abandoned their investigative plan to hold 11 hearings between January and October on a wide range of topics relating to the Benghazi attacks, shelving plans to have hearings with leadership from the Department of Defense and the CIA.
The Select Committee chose instead to politicize the committee and focus on targeting Secretary Clinton, which included issuing 23 press releases related to her in the past ten months. Secretary Clinton’s 11-hour hearing was the only hearing the Benghazi Committee has held since January. Since then, Republicans have scheduled no public hearings and instead have stated an intent to schedule private interviews before the end of the year.
As Select Committee Democrats wrote in a letter to Chairman Gowdy on July 15, 2015 these actions “lack any legitimate basis” and “serve only to delay its work further into the election season and subject it to increasingly widespread criticism for its highly partisan actions.”
View the fact sheet comparing the duration and cost of the Select Committee on Benghazi to other major investigations.
- Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina
- 5 months and 1 day (2005-2006)
- Expended $86,607
- Joint Committee on Investigations of the Pearl Harbor Attack
- 9 months and 15 days (1945-1946)
- Not to exceed $25,000
- The President’s Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy
- 9 months and 27 days (1963-1964)
- Budget not listed
- Select Committee to Investigate Covert Arms Transactions with Iran
- 10 months and 13 days (1987)
- Expended $4 million according to press reports
- Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities
- 1 year, 3 months, and 3 days (1975-1976)
- Not to exceed $750,000
- Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities
- 1 year, 4 months, and 21 days (1973-1974)
- Not to exceed $2 million