Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) said today that he voted to cut funding for U.S. embassy security amid political attacks from Republicans that the Obama administration did not do enough to secure the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya that was attacked last month.
Republicans and their allies have been trying to politicize the attack — which killed four Americans, including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya — suggesting, without evidence, the Obama administration may have ignored intelligence that the attack was imminent, didn’t properly secure the Benghazi compound and is now trying to cover it up.
But hidden beneath the GOP campaign is the fact that House Republicans voted to cut nearly $300 million from the U.S. embassy security budget. When asked if he voted to cut the funds this morning on CNN, Chaffetz said, “Absolutely”:
O’BRIEN: Is it true that you voted to cut the funding for embassy security?
CHAFFETZ: Absolutely. Look, we have to make priorities and choices in this country. We have — think about this — 15,000 contractors in Iraq. We have more than 6,000 contractors, private army there for President Obama in Baghdad.
And we’re talking about can we get two dozen or so people into Libya to help protect our forces? When you’re in tough economic times, you have to make difficult choices how to prioritize this.
CNN has the clip:
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The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank breaks it all down:
For fiscal 2013, the GOP-controlled House proposed spending $1.934 billion for the State Department’s Worldwide Security Protection program — well below the $2.15 billion requested by the Obama administration. House Republicans cut the administration’s request for embassy security funding by $128 million in fiscal 2011 and $331 million in fiscal 2012. (Negotiations with the Democrat-controlled Senate restored about $88 million of the administration’s request.) Last year, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that Republicans’ proposed cuts to her department would be “detrimental to America’s national security” — a charge Republicans rejected.
[GOP vice presidential nominee Paul] Ryan, [Rep. Darrell] Issa and other House Republicans voted for an amendment in 2009 to cut $1.2 billion from State operations, including funds for 300 more diplomatic security positions. Under Ryan’s budget, non-defense discretionary spending, which includes State Department funding, would be slashed nearly 20 percent in 2014, which would translate to more than $400 million in additional cuts to embassy security.
“It’s also important to note,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said last week, “that the Republican appropriation in Congress gave the administration $300 million less than it asked for for the State Department, including funding for security.”