ABC's foreign correspondent Martha Raddatz kicked off Thursday's vice presidential debate with a question about Libya, with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) wasting no time in criticizing President Barack Obama's administration for its handling of the issue. Ryan hit the president's administration for changing responses on what sparked the attack in Benghazi, as well as blamed the administration for inadequate security at the consulate (emphasis added):
We mourn the loss of these four Americans who were murdered. When you take a look at what has happened in the last few weeks, they sent the U.N. ambassador out to say that this was because of a protest and a YouTube video. It took the president two weeks to acknowledge that this was a terrorist attack. He went to the U.N. and in his speech at the U.N., he said six times -- he talked about the YouTube video.
Look, if we're hit by terrorists, we're going to call it for what it is: a terrorist attack. Our ambassador in Paris has a marine detachment guarding him. Shouldn't we have a Marine detachment guarding our ambassador in Benghazi, a place we knew there was an al Qaeda cell with arms? This is becoming more troubling by the day.
What Ryan didn't mention is the fact that House Republicans cut funding for embassy security, as Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) acknowledged this week.
"Absolutely," Chaffetz told CNN when asked whether he voted to lower funds. "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.”
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. As the Washington Post noted, for fiscal year 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."
Vice President Biden also jumped in when it was his time to respond, and pointed out that Ryan's own budget blueprint also cut funds for this very same purpose.
"Number one, this lecture on embassy security -- the congressman here cut embassy security in his budget by $300 million below what we asked for," he said. "Number one. So much for the embassy security piece."
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