WASHINGTON - The State Department and a House panel are working on an alternative date for Secretary of State John Kerry to testify about information related to the deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya, ending the immediate threat of a subpoena for a member of President Obama's cabinet.
Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, had subpoenaed Kerry to testify May 21 about the administration's response in providing e-mails and other documents to the panel investigating the Sept. 11, 2012, attack. Kerry is scheduled to travel to Mexico next week.
"The State Department has told the committee that they are committed to finding an alternative date in the near future for Secretary Kerry to testify before the Oversight Committee," Frederick Hill, a spokesman for the panel, said Monday. "As such, Chairman Issa agreed to lift the subpoena obligation for May 21."
The department and committee are looking at a new date for the secretary's testimony in late May or early June.
The Oversight Committee is pressing ahead with its investigation even as the House established a new select committee to conduct an inquiry into the assault that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
Republicans insist that the Obama administration has misled the American people about the attack, downplaying the terrorist assault weeks before the presidential election.
Democrats point to multiple investigations, bipartisan as well as independent, and maintain that an eighth inquiry is unnecessary.
In the Senate on Monday, Democrats blocked a Republican push for a joint House-Senate investigation.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) sought support for the Senate to participate in the inquiry.
Cruz argued that questions still remain, including whether Obama slept the night of the attack.
Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey objected, saying the probe is politically motivated and without merit.
Speaker John A. Boehner (R., Ohio) appointed seven Republicans to the special panel last week. Democrats are weighing whether to participate and appoint their five members.
Boehner said the investigation would move ahead with or without Democrats.
"I promised Ms. Pelosi [House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi] that if she appoints members to this, they will be treated fairly," Boehner said. "We've been having a discussion over the last four or five days about how witnesses would be handled, how documents would be handled. We're trying to come to some understanding, up front, of what I mean by fairness."