Former GOP congressman Pete Hoekstra says he was surprised by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers' decision to retire at the end of this year to start hosting a nationally syndicated talk radio show.
"That is absolutely the best job in Congress and to be leaving it at this point is surprising. Like I said, it's the best job in Congress; he could have [had it] for another two years. He's in a middle of cleaning up the whole mess with NSA. Hopefully, they are going to pursue the Benghazi investigation much more seriously," he told Newsmax TV's John Bachman and J.D. Hayworth on "America's Forum" Friday.
"There's been some questions about that, he's got 188 members of the Republican party who have signed on to legislation to have an independent investigation, independent of the committee structure, on Benghazi so there's a lot of stuff flowing around here."
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Hoekstra, who represented Michigan's 2nd congressional district from 1993 to 2011, served as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee from 2004-2007.
As for what is likely to happen on the committee with issues such as the NSA and Benghazi amidst the internal transition to a new chair, Hoekstra said, "Mike and the work that he's been doing with [Maryland Democrat Rep.] Dutch Ruppersberger enables him to probably pass legislation that reforms the NSA program and allows that to move forward in a way that I don't think will be as effective as what it has been in the past, but will alleviate the concerns that people have about American civil liberty. I'm optimistic that they may get that done.
"In terms of what happened with the Benghazi investigation, there's probably a good possibility, even though there's only a few months left in this term of Congress, that the final pieces will come together to have an independent investigation on Benghazi," Hoekstra said.
"The third thing is, for the next chairmanship, this is not a competition where you go out and try to round out the votes of your colleagues, this is a decision that is made purely by Speaker of the House John Boehner, assuming he's speaker next Congress. There are going to be some members trying to court his favor to get that appointment but you're not going to see the competitive rivalry in the committee that could make the committee dysfunctional."
Hoekstra said he does not think Rogers' departure will affect Boehner's relationship with the rest of the House Republican conference.
"In some ways, John Boehner was very much supporting Mike Rogers and his work on the Intelligence Committee, but again, when you get 188 of your colleagues who are calling for an independent investigation saying that the work of the Intelligence Committee, the Armed Services Committee, and government oversight in foreign affairs, that has not been an effective way to get to the bottom of Benghazi and what happened there – that sends kind of a clear message to the Speaker that maybe you need to do something else here and create kind of this super investigative committee."
"But Mike Rogers, as good as a job as he's done on the Intel Committee, as good a relationship that he has with John Boehner, I don't think there's anything about the future of John Boehner and whether he'll run for re-election and whether he comes back as Speaker or not," he added.
Hoekstra predicted that the GOP would keep Rogers' seat in the November elections.
"It's a safe Republican seat with redistricting. We've gone through two cycles of redistricting so that seat has become more Republican. You came in with Dick Chrysler, so it was a Republican seat, then it was a Democrat seat and Mike Rogers won it by just under 600 votes. His first election had a tough re-elect with a two-redistricting cycle. It's been made into a more favorable Republican seat," he explained.
"Mike also built up that seat and built up the Republican base. Finally, this is going to be a good Republican year in Michigan. We've got a good governor who's got a solid track record, who's going to get re-elected, we've got a good candidate for the U.S. Senate, Carl Levin is retiring, we've got a good shot at picking up that Senate seat. So the top of the ticket is going to be a very strong Republican ticket, we're going to keep that seat."
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