Senate passes amendment allowing State Department to beef up embassy security

Sen. Barbara MikulskiBarbara MikulskiIf 'bipartisanship' is now a dirty word, how about a rebranding? Overnight Energy: Senate panel approves EPA spending, rules bill Senate panel breaks with House on cuts to IRS MORE (D-Md.) introduced Amendment 3403 on behalf of Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick LeahySenate Dems rip GOP on immigration ruling Bernie Sanders’s awkward return to the Senate Senate heads toward internet surveillance fight MORE (D-Vt.) Thursday evening. The amendment was passed en bloc on Friday morning.

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Leahy’s amendment comes after four Americans were killed at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11. U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, was among those killed. 

After the attack, the State Department conducted an accountability review and found that security at other overseas posts was lacking as well.

The amendment would allow the State Department to transfer up to approximately $1 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations funds appropriated in fiscal 2012 for operations in Iraq, to other areas where security concerns are greater.

“We all want to do what we can to prevent another tragedy like what occurred in Benghazi,” Mikulski said on the floor Thursday. “The State Department has done a review, and these funds will be used to expedite construction of Marine security guard posts at overseas posts, and to build secure embassies in Beirut, Lebanon and Harare, Zimbabwe.”

Mikulski said that because the funds were already appropriated, the amendment would not add any cost to the $60.4 billion emergency-spending package being debated by the Senate.

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