Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) acknowledged on Wednesday that House Republicans had consciously voted to reduce the funds allocated to the State Department for embassy security since winning the majority in 2010.
"Absolutely," Chaffetz said. "Look we have to make priorities and choices in this country. We have…15,000 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.”
For the past two years, House Republicans have continued to deprioritize the security forces protecting State Department personnel around the world. In fiscal year 2011, lawmakers shaved $128 million off of the administration's request for embassy security funding. House Republicans drained off even more funds in fiscal year 2012 -- cutting back on the department's request by $331 million.
Consulate personnel stationed in Benghazi had allegedly expressed concerns over their safety in the months leading up to the Sept. 11 attacks that killed four Americans, including Amb. Chris Stevens. Chaffetz and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, claim those concerns were ignored.
"It seems to be a coordinated effort between the White House and the State Department, from Secretary [Hillary] Clinton to President Obama's White House," Chaffetz told Fox and Friends on Tuesday.
Chaffetz and Issa co-signed a letter to the State Department, demanding answers on to the Benghazi security detail. State Department officials and other witnesses will testify before the House Oversight Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense, and Foreign Operations on Wednesday.
Ahead of the hearing, some Democrats claim that partisanship and campaigning are corrupting the Libyan investigation, The New York Times reports. The charges come as some GOP members attempt to frame the incident as a failure of the Obama's foreign policy and to call criticize the administration for engaging in a "cover-up" of what really occurred.