In the past two budget cycles, the federal government has spent over 7.6 trillion dollars. Earlier this month, House Democrats began to complain that Republicans had spent seven million dollars on the House Select Committee on Benghazi during that same period in their push to get answers about the deaths of four Americans at an undersecured facility in the middle of a terror-ridden region, and why the US could not come to their aid. Bear in mind that this represents a grand total of 0.0000886% of all federal spending in this period, but this is the issue that Democrats want to spotlight in their demand to get control of the House back this fall.
As it turns out, Democrats spent a third of that money anyway, as Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler discovered. In fact, Congress gave the State Department almost the same amount of cash in the same two budget cycles to do what they’re supposed to be doing all along — responding to Congressional oversight requests, and not just on Benghazi:
Both sides accuse the other of making unreasonable requests or taking steps that have resulted in dragging out the investigation. The list of complaints from both is rather endless, reflecting the high level of acrimony on the committee.
To put the nearly $6.8 million in perspective, the State Department received $6.5 million in reprogrammed funds from Congress in fiscal 2015 and 2016 for a new unit that responds to congressional requests, including inquiries from the Benghazi Committee, according to a State Department official. That figure does not include the efforts of the Freedom of Information Act office and legal and regional officials at the Department to re-digitize Clinton’s 30,000 emails and make them ready for public release. …
It is too facile for Democrats to pin all of the spending for the Benghazi committee on Republicans. One-third of the spending goes to Democratic staff and expenses, and that should be acknowledged in Democratic statements. Democrats choose to participate in the committee and hire staff, meaning they share in the cost as well.
On the point itself, the cost directly reflects the lack of cooperation given to the House in this and earlier probes. Hillary Clinton’s e-mail server is a sterling example of this. The State Department pushed off Congress and the courts for years by claiming she had no e-mails relating to oversight or FOIA requests, and it was only this committee’s investigation that discovered why no one could find Hillary’s e-mails. Whistleblowers are still coming forward to contradict official Obama administration versions of events, even as late as this week. It’s taken years to drag all of this out of the executive branch; considering that, the figure seems mighty low.
Let’s return to that 0.0000886% figure ($6.77 million out of $7.65 trillion), though, to gain some perspective. While seven million dollars may be a lot of money, it’s barely a blip in the bloated, overleveraged federal budget. If Democrats want to start cutting costs, here are a few more questions we can ask.
- How much money has the executive branch spent to force nuns, priests, and ministers to buy contraception for their employees?
- How much money has the EPA spent to pollute the Animas River?
- How much money has the Department of Justice spent fighting voter-ID laws that the Supreme Court has repeatedly found legitimate?
- How much will the White House and Justice spend on imposing transgender access to bathrooms policy on states?
- How much money do taxpayers shell out for a typical two-week Obama family vacation? (Hint: It’s more than the Benghazi committee’s two-year bill.)
Given that the US suffered a humiliating defeat in Benghazi and lost four American lives, including the first US ambassador killed in the line of duty in more than thirty years, we are owed a complete explanation and accounting for all of the failures that led to that sorry defeat. If that costs seven million dollars, it might be the best bargain we’ve gotten in the federal budget in a very long time.