Dem lawmaker confronts Pompeo over spending cuts to diplomatic security

Dem lawmaker confronts Pompeo over spending cuts to diplomatic security

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoHeather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN Ambassador job The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine — Trump, Congress prepare for new border wall fight Overnight Defense: Trump to sign funding deal, declare national emergency | Shanahan says allies will be consulted on Afghanistan | Dem demands Khashoggi documents MORE was grilled about funding for diplomatic security while testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday morning.

Rep. Gregory MeeksGregory Weldon MeeksProtesters interrupt Elliott Abrams during Venezuela hearing Dem behind impeachment push to boycott State of the Union Democrats seek to take on Trump at State of the Union MORE (D-N.Y.) confronted Pompeo during the hearing about the decrease in spending on diplomatic security under the Trump administration.

“Under the Obama Administration, over $3 billion went to diplomatic security, but once President TrumpDonald John TrumpGillibrand backs federal classification of third gender: report Former Carter pollster, Bannon ally Patrick Caddell dies at 68 Heather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN Ambassador job MORE came in, I see it went to down $2.1 billion ... and down to $1.6 billion,” Meeks stated.

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“So where is the concern now about diplomatic security?” he asked Pompeo.

“Diplomatic security is not about dollars and spending,” Pompeo responded, adding that the real task is “being thoughtful about where you put people.”

“We’re going to take risks. We’re going to be an expeditionary State Department,” Pompeo concluded. “I think President Trump demands it; I think each of you do as well.”

Meeks later called Pompeo a hypocrite for saying Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSanders expected to announce exploratory committee next week Bernie Sanders records announcement video ahead of possible 2020 bid Overnight Defense: Trump declares border emergency | .6B in military construction funds to be used for wall | Trump believes Obama would have started war with North Korea | Pentagon delivers aid for Venezuelan migrants MORE failed on diplomatic security as secretary of State but not focusing on it now that he is in that position.

“You didn’t give her any courtesy when Secretary Hillary Clinton was sitting in her seat before the Benghazi Committee and you scolded her. You went after her with venom,” Meeks said to Pompeo, adding that he hasn't heard him mention diplomatic security "one single time."

Pompeo, who served on the Benghazi select committee while in the House, wrote in a report that Clinton “failed to lead” after she was warned that the security situation in the Benghazi consulate was dangerous.

“Should we conclude that because you have not mentioned it one time ... should we conclude based on that fact that you do not care about diplomatic security?" Meeks asked. 

“No, you should not conclude that,”  Pompeo fired back, raising his voice while saying that the first briefing he received after assuming the position was on security. “I take diplomatic security very seriously.”

Trump tapped Pompeo, who previously led the CIA, to serve as his secretary of State following Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonHeather Nauert withdraws her name from consideration for UN Ambassador job Trump administration’s top European diplomat to resign in February Pompeo planning to meet with Pat Roberts amid 2020 Senate speculation MORE's ouster from the position in March.

In his first budget blueprint released last year, Trump proposed cutting the State Department budget by 28 percent, a move that White House budget chief Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyHigh stakes as Trump, Dems open drug price talks Trump declares national emergency at border Puerto Rico governor threatens legal action over national emergency declaration: 'See you in court' MORE conceded at the time was "fairly dramatic." 

However, Tillerson defended the proposed cuts, saying they were needed to fix what he deemed a "historically high" budget.

"Clearly the level of spending that the State Department has been undertaking, particularly in this past year, is simply not sustainable," he said at the time.

Tillerson had also imposed a partial hiring freeze after entering the State Department last year as part of a "redesign" of the agency, a move that drove down morale among career officials at the department.

Pompeo earlier this month lifted the hiring freeze on the Foreign and Civil services. 

--Updated at 12:20 p.m.