Republican Utah Rep Jason Chaffetz has been vocal with his criticism about the handling of Libyan consulate security, but he has also admitted that he voted to cut embassy funding.
Chaffetz has accused the Obama Administration of caring more about appearances than about the security of the consulate and staff in Libya. According to a FoxNews 13 report, Chaffetz, a senior Republican on the House Government Oversight Committee, has stated that documents show help was requested by teams in Libya and but those requests were consistently denied. Chaffetz is quoted as saying: “It seems to be a coordinated effort between the White House and the State Department. They wanted the appearance of, quote unquote, normalization there in Libya and building up of an infrastructure, putting up barbed wire on our facility would lead to the wrong impression.” He later told Fox and Friends he didn't have evidence to that effect, but it was his "strong opinion."
During an interview with Fox News' Greta Van Susteren, Chaffetz also stated "They wanted a narrative that they were moving towards normalization, the appearance of normalization as swiftly as possible. But that, unfortunately, I think led to the idea that we didn’t have the security in place to protect our assets in Libya."
However, as Congressional hearings regarding the attack on the Libyan Consulate began on Wednesday, it was revealed that Chaffetz and other republican House members voted to cut funding for embassy security.
During an interview with CNN Anchor Soledad O’Brien, Chaffetz was asked if it was true he voted to cut embassy security spending. Chaffetz responded by saying: “Absolutely. Look we have to make priorities and choices in this country. We have… 15,0000 contractors in Iraq. We have more than 6,000 contractors, a 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. You have to prioritize things.”
House Democrats issued a memo stating that since 2010, House Republicans have voted to reduce the embassy security funding requested by President Obama by approximately half a billion dollars. This was done despite security concerns and the need for updated or additional construction of security walls for some embassies and consulates such as the one in Benghazi.
A Washington Post report states that the GOP-controlled House proposed spending $1.934 billion for the State Department’s Worldwide Security Protection program for the fiscal year 2013 budget. That number is well below the $2.15 billion requested by the Obama administration. They also cut the administration’s request for embassy security funding by $128 million in 2011 and $331 million in 2012. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that the Republicans’ proposed cuts to her department would be “detrimental to America’s national security.” Republicans rejected the warning and went ahead with the budget cuts.