Leahy Embassy Security Bill Passes Senate

WASHINGTON  -- The U.S. Senate Monday night approved legislation authored by Senator Patrick Leahy to transfer surplus funds for Iraq to U.S. embassy security needs in several locations that have been identified in the post-Benghazi review. 

Leahy’s bipartisan bill would authorize the State Department to transfer to embassy security purposes up to $1.1 billion in previously appropriated funds that are no longer needed in Iraq because of reduced operations there.  Leahy chairs the Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on State Department and Foreign Operations.  Cosponsors of the bill include Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.); Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), ranking member of the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee; Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee; Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.); Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa.); and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.). 

The bill is based on the Leahy Amendment that the Senate approved in December during debate on the Supplemental Appropriations Bill for Sandy and other purposes.  House Republican leaders dropped the Leahy provision in the House’s version of the bill.

Leahy said, “Hardening our embassy security is something that everyone agrees is needed.  We all want to do what we can to prevent another tragedy like what occurred in Benghazi.  The State Department has done a review, and these funds will be used to expedite construction of Marine security guard posts at overseas facilities, and to build secure embassies.”

Leahy continued, “There already has been unnecessary delay in Congress that has prevented getting this work underway.  I hope the House will give this serious and prompt attention so these security improvements can begin.”

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