Democratic Senator Slams Republicans For Blocking Embassy Security Funding

Sen. Patrick Leahy

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) issued a statement on Wednesday slamming House Republicans for removing an authorization for increasing embassy security funding from an emergency disaster relief bill.

Released on the same day as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s testimony before Congress on the Benghazi attack, Leahy doesn’t hold back in his scorn for the House. “Since the Republican takeover of the House, House Republicans have proposed deep cuts for U.S. embassy operations and programs across the board, including for security,” Leahy said in his statement. “Now they have topped even that record of recklessness”:

In preventing this transfer of unused funds appropriated earlier for Iraq – funds already appropriated and approved by Congress – [House Republicans] have hobbled the work that everyone agrees is needed to harden our embassy security efforts. […] Many of our diplomats serve in dangerous places by necessity. We need to protect them as best we can, without turning our embassies into impenetrable fortresses that make it impossible for them to do their jobs.

“For Republicans to blame the Administration for failing to protect our diplomats, without acknowledging their own efforts to slash resources for embassy security, is pure, distilled hypocrisy.”

Secretary Clinton previously announced her intention to request the ability to transfer funds at the release of the Accountability Review Board’s findings in December. The Senate passed a bill approving $60 billion worth of funding to clean up from Superstorm Sandy in late December, to which Leahy attached an amendment authorizing the transfer from unused Iraq and Afghanistan funding to allow for increases in embassy security. Since then, the House has taken the lead in drafting the relief bills, each time leaving out Leahy’s provision.

Clinton repeated her call several times during her testimony before both houses of Congress on Wednesday, noting that the House had yet to act. House Republicans have still been reluctant to provide her request, despite continuing to attack the Obama administration’s commitment to security. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) this morning on CNN made clear that he believes that security failures in Benghazi were “not about the budget.” Likewise, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) — a lead provocateur on Benghazi — once proudly declared that he “absolutely” cut funding to the State Department’s Diplomatic Security.