Republican Rep. Mike Coffman said he voted to create the select committee to prevent future terrorist attacks on American embassies and to hold the administration accountable.
“It’s important to know why the system failed in order to make sure something like this never happens again,” Coffman said. “This has lasted so unnecessarily long because the administration hasn’t complied with the investigations.”
Coffman knows a thing or two about embassy security having served in the First Battalion, Eighth Marines on a ship off the coast of Lebanon from April to October 1982. His job was to provide reinforcement in case the U.S. Embassy in Beirut was attacked.
After Coffman’s tour of duty ended, his battalion was replaced by Marines who were killed alongside more than 200 U.S. and French military members in the October 1983 terrorist attack on their barracks in Lebanon.
“It was pretty grisly,” Coffman said.
Democratic Rep. Jared Polis argued that the committee should have been made up of an equal number of members from both parties instead of seven Republicans and five Democrats – a formula based on majority rule.
Also, he criticized the resolution for allowing unlimited funds to be spent. “There were not even any cost estimates presented. We simply don’t know if this will be a $1 million, a $5 million, a $50 million, a $200 million endeavor,” Polis said during floor debate on the measure last week.
Democrats Polis and Rep. Ed Perlmutter opposed the resolution while Diana DeGette did not vote. Republican Reps. Coffman, Scott Tipton, Cory Gardner, and Doug Lamborn voted for the measure.
The split in the Colorado delegation mirrored the party line vote, with 223 Republicans voting yes and 178 Democrats voting no.
Pressure to create a select committee on Benghazi within the House GOP caucus had been growing for more than a year and comes nearly 20 months after four U.S. personnel, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were killed by armed militants with links to al Qaeda.
Colorado’s Republicans signed their names to a proposal in June urging House Speaker John Boehner to empanel the select committee.
On Friday, Boehner announced that the seven Republicans on the panel would include Jim Jordan of Ohio, Susan Brooks of Indiana, Martha Roby of Alabama, Peter Roskam of Illinois, Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia, Mike Pompeo of Kansas, and chairman Trey Gowdy of South Carolina.
Although Republicans hold a majority in the House, Democratic leaders have said they may appoint only one member in protest of what they consider to be the partisan make-up of the panel.