Amid the sense of gridlock that has become the norm in the U.S. Senate, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is now threatening to block every single nomination from the Obama administration until he gets what he wants on Benghazi — again.
On Sunday evening, CBS’ 60 Minutes aired a new report on the attack in Benghazi, Libya that took place last year, examining the nature of the attack, which analysts are now calling pre-planned. This differs greatly from the early days and weeks after the attack, when members of the administration were still attempting to find out what went wrong and what led to the deaths of four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.
In that light, and still on the hunt for a White House cover-up, Graham was on Fox News on Monday, advocating for yet another look into the tragedy, echoing the demands of the most conspiracy-minded members of the House of Representatives:
GRAHAM: So I am calling for a joint select committee. But for God’s sake, let the House have a select committee where you get three or four committees together to look at this situation as one unit rather than stove piping. And where are the survivors? 14 months later, Steve, the survivors, the people who survived the attack in Benghazi, have not been made available to the U.S. congress for oversight purposes. I’m going to block every appointment in the United States Senate until the survivors are being made available to the Congress. I’m tired of hearing from people on TV and reading about stuff in books.
“We need to get to the bottom of this and to my house colleagues, Darrell Issa has done great job,” Graham continued in his Fox interview, referring to the many House Oversight Committee hearings that Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) has held related to the attack. Issa himself, however, has admitted that he did not learn much in his last major round of public hearings.
In demanding that a special committee be convened in the House to take over the Benghazi investigation, Graham is aligning himself with many of the more conservative members of the House Republican caucus and against Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Rep. Frank Wolff (R-VA) has been rallying conservatives to press Boehner for a special committee for months now, aligning himself with outside groups who have attempted — and failed — to show that public opinion is on their side. Despite their past failures, Graham’s decision to join their ranks will surely help him fend off the Tea Party challenger he’s facing ahead of the 2014 midterm elections.
This is not the first time at all that Graham has threatened to take hostages in the Senate to get his way, nor even the first time his demands have related to Benghazi. Graham issued a warning about no nominations proceeding unless the Port of Charleston received the $50,000 needed to be deepened back in 2011. In Dec. 2012, Graham threatened to allow the U.S. to go over the so-called “fiscal cliff” unless the Social Security age was raised.
On Benghazi itself, Graham has had his exact demands change along with his targets. CIA Director John Brennan was threatened not to be confirmed unless Graham was able to learn precisely who changed the infamous “talking points” that now-National Security Advisor Susan Rice delivered the week after the attack. He also swore to not allow a vote on Chuck Hagel’s nomination as Secretary of Defense unless his predecessor Leon Panetta testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Both of those demands were met, showing that the CIA itself was the one who deleted references to al Qaeda from Rice’s talking points and allowing Panetta to chide the SASC’s Republicans for treating the military like a 911 service.
Graham’s threat comes just as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) prepares a new wave of Obama administration nominees to be brought before the Senate. Even before the threat to hold all of these nominees was issued, Senate Democrats have been mulling the so-called “nuclear option” of allowing for votes to proceed with a majority 51 votes, ending the threat of the filibuster on certain types of votes.
Ironically enough, Graham recently chastised his colleagues for blocking an up or down vote on the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, calling it the “wrong” thing to do.