Wasted Time, Wasted Dollars
By Stephanie Schriock, President, EMILY’s List
This week’s House Benghazi Select Committee hearing begs the question: Can you imagine what would happen if our elected officials put as much effort into ending gender discrimination in pay, or fixing our criminal justice system, or taking climate change seriously as they’re putting into this investigation?
Actually, you don’t have to imagine, because Congress already has a long history of using its investigative powers for good — from Watergate to Hurricane Katrina.
Ironically, Hillary Clinton herself gave us one of the best examples of how this can work when she was serving as the senator from the State of New York. That’s because, after evidence emerged the George W. Bush administration had misrepresented the findings of an EPA investigation into the air quality at Ground Zero, Hillary Clinton led an investigation to expose the truth — not because she had a political motivation to do so, but because she believed it was the right thing to do for the people of New York.
And as senator, she not only helped reveal the health risks posed by the air quality in lower Manhattan, but she also won more than $100 million to support first responders who had risked their lives on September 11th. Thousands of New Yorkers got access to medical and psychological screenings as a result — and over 50 percent of them actually turned out to have a condition they might not otherwise have gotten treatment for.
That’s the kind of leadership we need in Congress — and unfortunately, the Republicans in power have done nothing but fall short.
A few days ago, the chairman of the House Benghazi committee, Trey Gowdy, said the past few weeks have “been among the worst” of his life. Unfortunately for Trey, the real damage being done here isn’t to his feelings.
It’s the damage he and the rest of the Republicans in Congress are doing to the people they were elected to represent — families who are struggling against the toughest of odds, who’ve been abandoned by congressional leadership just when they needed them most.
This week is just one more reminder of how extreme this Congress has become — and the Republican leadership’s admission that the only reason the Benghazi committee was established in the first place was to “go after” Hillary Clinton just confirms what we already knew to be true.
Starting with this committee, and now followed by Planned Parenthood, Republicans have made it clear: they have absolutely no problem wasting valuable time and massive amounts of taxpayer money on partisan political attacks.
The truth is that even before the Benghazi committee was formed, Congress had already conducted seven different investigations into the attack. Thousands of pages of documents had been turned over. The questions the committee is now raising had already been asked — and answered.
And yet — $4.5 million in taxpayer dollars later — here we are. The investigation is still ongoing. (For the record, Republicans in Congress have now spent more time investigating Benghazi than Congress spent investigating Pearl Harbor).
The committee has not only turned up no new information, but they’ve now revealed time and time again what their real motivations are in this investigation — firing at least one staffer who objected to the partisan focus and interviewing more Clinton campaign staff than Defense Department officials. (In what world does that make sense?)
The truth is, this tragedy is also personal for Hillary Clinton. She knew Chris Stevens — and asked him to serve. She believes we should do everything we can to protect our diplomats serving abroad. To politicize this tragedy is just plain wrong.
With the new inquest into Planned Parenthood — an organization that has done no wrong, broken no laws, and that millions of American women and men depend on for health care — we can expect to see more of the same.
This is all happening at a time when American families are facing some really tough circumstances. We have real problems as a country — and we desperately need OUR Congress putting its time and resources into solving them.
We can do better as a country — and we must.
And it starts with us sending a clear message to Republicans in Congress that “enough is enough.”
If we want to move forward, we’ve got to move on.