The State Department is asking Congress for $4.6 billion to boost security at its embassies and consulates, a request that follows 2012’s deadly attack on the department’s facility in Benghazi, Libya.
The funding would be used, State’s fiscal 2015 budget plan says, for security staff and upgrades to infrastructure, and for new embassies or consulate compounds. That’s $600 million more than the $4 billion requested for security upgrades last year.
A handful of recent congressional reports have questioned, if not outright blamed, the department for its lack of responsiveness leading up the 2012 attack that killed four Americans: Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, U.S. Foreign Service Information Officer Sean Smith, and embassy security personnel Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.
Secretary of State John Kerry said in a letter submitted with the budget request that the extra funding would help “regularize security enhancements made” since a 2012 Benghazi Accountability Review Board found that security in Benghazi was “grossly inadequate” to withstand the attack.
Kerry is going to Congress this week to explain his department’s request. Although the attack happened while Hillary Clinton headed the State Department, staffers say Kerry will face scrutiny over State’s security practices and if, or how, they’ve been improved in the roughly 18 months since Benghazi.
“The failures of Benghazi can be summed up this way: The Americans serving in Libya were vulnerable; the State Department knew they were vulnerable; and no one in the administration really did anything about it,” according to a 2014 report by the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Following up on a recommendation from the review board report, the department’s budget backs an interagency effort to provide $2.2 billion for capital security construction.
What We're Following See More »
Donald Trump has chosen Gen. James Kelly to be his secretary of homeland security, making Kelly the third general tapped by Trump to serve in his administration. The official announcement is likely to come in the next couple of days. Kelly, who did not endorse Trump during the campaign, "was the commander of U.S. Southern Command until earlier this year."
Iowa Republican Terry Branstad, the longest-serving governor in American history, has accepted President-elect Donald Trump's offer to serve as ambassador to China, Bloomberg reported late Tuesday. Branstad has a longstanding relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping and backed Trump during the election. If he's confirmed, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds would become the Hawkeye State's first female governor and could run for a full term in 2018. Iowa does not place term limits on its governors.
"Congressional negotiators released a stopgap spending bill Tuesday night to avert a partial government shutdown at midnight Friday and to fund federal agencies and programs through April 28." The 70-page continuing resolution includes $170 million to aid Flint, Michigan's water supply, and a waiver that would allow Ret. Gen. James Mattis to assume the role of secretary of Defense.
"A number of Capitol Hill Democrats have revived proposals to reform or abolish the Electoral College," chief among Michigan's John Conyers, who "held a panel on Capitol Hill Tuesday to discuss options for eliminating the Electoral College and replacing it with a system where a national popular vote elects the president. ... The plan with the most support to reform the election college at the panel was the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, a proposal first developed in 2001 that would give the national popular vote winner the majority of electoral college votes through an agreement between the states."