ouse Democrats remained undecided Friday on whether they would join a select committee created by majority Republicans to investigate the Benghazi terror attack.
Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, said his side was waiting for a response from Republicans on what he called "due process," which translates to Democrats getting some say in committee proceedings regarding subpoenas and questioning of witnesses.
He indicated a final decision was unlikely on Friday, though the House Democratic caucus met to discuss the issue.
Options under consideration include participating as a minority bloc, which Republicans have proposed; having a lone member take part to register disapproval but maintain a presence, or rejecting the entire process as a partisan witch hunt.
"We are trying to find a way to make this work but the Republicans have shown no inclination to make it work," Rep. Steve Israel of New York told reporters outside the meeting. "If this is going to be a true bipartisan inquiry we will participate. If it is engineered to be a Republican campaign strategy, it is much harder for us to participate."
The September 2012 armed assault on the U.S. diplomatic compound in eastern Libya killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
Republicans have complained since that the Obama administration failed to properly secure the compound, neglected to send military assets to try to save the besieged Americans and then tried to cover up exactly what happened.
The administration and Democrats counter that multiple investigations have found security deficiencies, but not the kind of wrongdoing alleged by Republicans.
For Republicans, the issue presents an opportunity to attack then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the overwhelming favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 if she decides to run.
Clinton is polling well so far against all likely GOP challengers, and the emotional Benghazi issue offers Republicans a chance to exploit one of her few potential vulnerabilities.
A nearly party line vote of 232-186 on Thursday established the panel despite investigations by multiple House committees that have reviewed documents, interviewed witnesses and held numerous hearings.
GOP plans call for seven Republicans and five Democrats on the committee, which would have subpoena powers. Boehner already appointed South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, a former prosecutor, to lead the effort.
Seven Democrats backed the formation of the committee. Most face tough reelection bids in "red" districts.
Democrats argued that creation of a special panel was a political ploy to keep the controversy in play during a midterm election year.
"If there is not equal representation of Democrats and Republicans, and that this is not a fair process, then not participating in a sham select committee after 13 investigations, 50 briefings, 25,000 pages of documents, for what is essentially a political ploy is something that should be considered," Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic National Committee chairman, told CNN on Friday.
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