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Mr. LEAHY. Today I am pleased the Senate will pass the bipartisan Embassy Security Funds Transfer Act of 2013. This commonsense legislation will enact a provision similar to one passed overwhelmingly by the Senate last December as part of the Sandy Supplemental but that was stripped out by House Republicans.
This bill simply provides authority to the State Department to transfer up to $1.1 billion in overseas contingency operations funds appropriated in Fiscal Year 2012 for operations in Iraq, which are no longer needed due to reduced State operations there, to be used for increased security at U.S. embassies and other overseas posts identified in the Department's security review after the terrorist attack in Benghazi.
Making such resources available for these purposes is one of the recommendations of the Accountability Review Board chaired by Ambassador Pickering and Admiral Mullen. The bill permits the transfer of funds between the diplomatic and consular programs and embassy security construction and maintenance accounts. Such transfers would otherwise be precluded due to percentage limitations.
To be clear, this legislation appropriates no additional funds. It costs the taxpayers no additional money. It has no scoring impact. It merely allows for the transfer of existing, appropriated funds for this critical purpose. There is nothing controversial about this bill.
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 for the construction of other secure embassies. While it is impossible to guarantee the safety of our diplomats and aid workers, many of whom risk their lives daily in dangerous places, we should protect them as best we can so they can carry out their duties as safely as possible.
As I mentioned, the Senate approved a similar provision last December, overwhelmingly, by voice vote. I thank Chairwoman Mikulski, Senator Graham, and the other cosponsors for supporting this bill and for helping to expedite its consideration. I am confident that the chairwoman and ranking member of the House State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee share our view that this is an appropriate use of these funds. I hope the House will act quickly to send this bill to the President.
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