The US House of Representatives has voted to create a panel to investigate the White House response to the 2012 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
The House voted 232-186 to approve the panel. The vote breakdown was 225 Republicans and 7 Democrats in favor, with 186 Democrats voting against the measure. The Democrats who backed the probe were all moderate to conservative party members who face tough re-election campaigns. (source)
Republicans have said the Democratic Obama administration misled the public on the nature of the attack.
Four Americans including US Ambassador Chris Stevens were killed.
The 11 September 2012 attack, in which gunmen stormed the US compound and set it on fire, has become a political lightning rod.
The Republicans have accused the Obama administration of covering up the involvement of militant groups in the days after the attack in order to protect President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.
The White House initially said the attack was sparked by protests about an anti-Islam video produced in the US.
Administration officials later found that it was an organised attack planned by local militias, although the New York Times claimed after an extensive investigation that some of the attackers were motivated by the film.
Ahead of the vote on Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner promised an “eminently fair” investigation to answer questions stemming from the attack.
Republicans have been very critical of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is now weighing a 2016 presidential run.
Congressional Democrats, meanwhile, have argued that the panel will be too partisan in nature and have accused conservatives of using it to energize Republican voters prior to midterm elections in November. House Speaker, John Boehner defended the make-up of the panel saying:
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“I had a conversation with (Pelosi) yesterday and made clear that this is a serious investigation, that we want to work together to get to the truth,” he said. “I think the seven-five split is eminently fair, frankly fairer than her Global Warming Committee that she set up.” (source)