The House could spend up to $3.3 million in taxpayer dollars over seven months on a special committee to investigate the Sep. 2011 attacks against the American diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, more than lawmakers have appropriated for committees dedicated to investigating ethics and helping American veterans over an entire 12 month period.
A ThinkProgress analysis of House spending on its 20 permanent committees from Jan. 3, 2013 to Jan. 3, 2014 finds that since Benghazi committee’s full-year equivalent budget would be an estimated $5,657,142, its investigation will cost more than the budgets of nine other House committees:
Committee on Rules: $2,857,408Committee on Small Business: $2,992,688Committee on Ethics: $3,020,459Committee on Veterans’ Affairs: $3,048,546Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence: $4,389,758Committee on House Administration: $4,600,560Committee on Agriculture: $5,036,187Committee on the Budget: $5,138,824Committee on Science, Space, and Technology: $5,282,755House Benghazi Panel: $5,657,142 Committee on Natural Resources: $6,555,829Committee on Armed Services: $6,563,535Committee on Education and the Workforce: $6,952,763Committee on Homeland Security: $7,033,588Committee on the Judiciary: $7,077,016Committee on Foreign Affairs: $7,388,112Committee on Financial Services: $7,394,482Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure: $8,182,307Committee on Ways and Means: $8,423,411Committee on Oversight and Government Reform: $8,940,437Committee on Energy and Commerce: $9,520,516
The seven House Republicans will receive a bigger share of the committee budget, $2.2 million, more than the five Democrats, who will see “just over $1 million.” Funding for the committee “comes from already-appropriated legislative branch funds” a GOP spokesperson told USA Today, and does not represent a new expenditure. The spokesperson also claimed that the $3.3 million figure represents “the high end estimate,” though the investigation is likely to bleed into 2015.
The Benghazi committee, which House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) agreed to put to a vote after facing political pressure from conservatives, comes after the House and Senate already held numerous hearings on the attacks, interviewed scores of witnesses, and received thousands of documents from the Obama administration. Seven Congressional investigations have looked into the Benghazi attacks since 2012, including the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, House Armed Services Committee, House and Senate Intelligence Committees, Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and the Senate Armed Services Committee. These investigations consumed 13 public hearings, 50 member and staff briefings, and over 25,000 pages of documents, White House officials estimate.
In March, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Legislative Affairs Elizabeth King said in a letter to Congress that the Pentagon and other government agencies had spent “millions of dollars” complying with the investigations.