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 PompeoHouse, Senate panels to question ousted State Dept. inspector general on Wednesday: report National security adviser says foreign powers trying to exploit US race relations Britain and Europe need to step up their support for Hong Kong MORE was grilled about funding for diplomatic security while testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday morning.

Rep. Gregory MeeksGregory Weldon MeeksA prescriptive path forward for saving struggling countries' economies Minority caucuses endorse Texas Afro-Latina for Congress NY, NJ lawmakers call for more aid to help fight coronavirus 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 TrumpFauci says his meetings with Trump have 'dramatically decreased' McEnany criticizes DC mayor for not imposing earlier curfew amid protests Stopping Israel's annexation is a US national security interest 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 ClintonJuan Williams: Bush could strike blow for Biden Zuckerberg expressed concern to Trump over rhetoric amid protests: Axios Montana barrels toward blockbuster Senate fight 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 TillersonDemocrats launch probe into Trump's firing of State Department watchdog, Pompeo The Memo: Fauci at odds with Trump on virus The Memo: Speculation grows about Fauci's future 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 MulvaneyMick Mulvaney12 things to know today about coronavirus Mulvaney: 'We've overreacted a little bit' to coronavirus The Memo: Trump agenda rolls on amid pandemic 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.