Bipartisan legislation authorizes transfer of funding for diplomatic security

February 05, 2013

(Washington, D.C.) – Legislation cosponsored by U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) that will bolster security at U.S. embassies and other diplomatic facilities worldwide cleared the Senate late Monday by unanimous consent. The bill, sponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), aims to prevent further tragedies such as the deadly assault last year at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya that killed four Americans by transferring already existing resources to boost security at high threat diplomatic posts around the world.  Specifically, the bill authorizes the State Department to transfer up to $1.1 billion in surplus funds from the scaled back American mission in Iraq to improve security at U.S. diplomatic and consular programs.  The bill includes no new spending and now moves to the House of Representatives for its consideration. 

“In the hearings and briefings that took place in the wake of the Benghazi attacks, it became clear that we needed to prioritize security assets and resources to protect our diplomats. This bipartisan legislation that I introduced with my Senate colleagues addresses that issue head on by taking surplus funding and smartly reallocating it into U.S. embassy protection,” said Senator Shaheen.

Shaheen, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was a lead proponent of S. 227 after having recognized the need to bolster security assets to ensure that necessary protections were in place to prevent future attacks on American embassies.  Shaheen most recently renewed her call for prioritizing security resources at high threat diplomatic posts during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in January where former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testified about the attacks in Benghazi.

“The bottom line is that mistakes were made in Benghazi and those mistakes resulted in the tragic deaths of four Americans.  We have a responsibility to learn from the mistakes made in Libya to make sure they’re not repeated and this legislation acts in that manner,” added Senator Shaheen. “We must make sure American diplomats are protected overseas and I’m hopeful that the House will do the right thing and act on this legislation quickly.”

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