Tennessee’s Bob Corker began his tenure today as the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He was the first GOP senator to ask Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. But Corker’s questions weren’t nearly as pointed as those asked by other Republican lawmakers.
Corker has been a fierce critic of the Obama Administration’s response to Benghazi. His sharpest exchange with Secretary Clinton had to do with the State Department’s own probe into the attack. Corker asserted the agency hasn’t acted on the findings of internal investigations in the past.
“Corker: 19 or 17 had been done. I will say none of them have been fully implemented.”
Clinton: “Senator, that’s not accurate! I heard you say that when Bill Burns and Thom Nides were here and it shocked me.”
Clinton was referring to two State Department officials who testified in her place, at a hearing last year. Corker didn’t push back on Clinton’s response, and moved to another question.
During today’s hearing, he also praised the secretary for her hard work, as she gets ready to step down from the post.
As ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, Corker will now be one of the most prominent Republican voices on everything from the war in Afghanistan to foreign aid to the State Department’s budget.
If the GOP wins back the Senate in 2014, he stands a good chance of becoming the committee’s chairman.