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Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. President, I appreciate my colleague from the Foreign Relations Committee having already objected, but I wish to make a few remarks because there are those--regardless of what is reviewed, regardless of who comes forth, regardless of all the information--who want to keep this alive for what are ultimately election purposes. I know the next Presidential election is a few years away, but it seems it is very alive in the Senate.

Look, I am always for getting to the truth, particularly when the lives of American diplomats have been lost. That is an honorable pursuit. But by the same token, from my perspective--and let me say why I am going to have this perspective. My perspective is we have two of the most outstanding individuals in Ambassador Pickering and Admiral Mullen. Certainly, no one questions their integrity. At least I have not heard their integrity questioned on the Senate floor. They conducted the Accountability Review Board. In the process, they yielded 29 recommendations that are, in fact, being implemented, that our committee has continued to pursue oversight in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. We have held two hearings. We have had multiple level--high-level briefings, including intelligence briefings, bringing all the respective parties who are responsible together.

In fact, we had the former Secretary of State before the committee at a hearing I chaired at the time who addressed all of these issues. We had before that, former Chairman Kerry, now Secretary Kerry. He held a hearing of the committee on the events that transpired with Deputy Secretary Burns and Deputy Under Secretary Nyes. We had two classified briefings on December 13 and 19, specifically on the circumstances surrounding the attack.

In those classified briefings, we had the key individuals who could get us to the truth. I understand the Select Committee on Intelligence is presenting a bipartisan report on the events that occurred in Benghazi. Last December, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs chairman at the time, Senator Lieberman, and Ranking Member Collins released a bipartisan report on the security deficiencies at the temporary U.S. mission in Benghazi that led to the deaths of those four Americans, including our Ambassador Chris Stevens. The House has conducted its own hearings and investigations. Yet we have those who want to continue to pursue this, despite all of these different efforts, independent of the Senate, between the House, the Accountability Review Board.

There is a lot of culpability, and maybe there is coverup in a different sense. The coverup is a Congress that doesn't want to put the money where it is necessary, to ultimately take the high-risk, high-threat posts of this country and ultimately protect them. It is nice to talk about who is responsible. Let's talk about who is also responsible in terms of obligations. We have over 30 high-risk, high-threat posts in the world right now--right now as we speak on the Senate floor--that are at risk and that do not meet the present security standards. Yet Congress seems to move ever so slowly toward getting to the resources that would accelerate the pace on which we create the physical and other protections for those high-threat, high-risk posts.

Those, of course, are the 30 that exist today. We know from history that in fact what exists today as a high-risk, high-threat post, tomorrow there could be another one on the list. So we have diplomats who are at institutions that do not meet the present standards. Yet at the pace we are going, based upon the appropriations of this Senate, we would find ourselves a decade from now dealing with just those 30 posts. I would like to see the Members who do not seem to be willing to vote for the security of diplomats abroad, before the next attack comes--and inevitability, unfortunately, in the world in which we live that is very possible--put their resources to work to accelerate the pace to where we would succeed in preventing injuries or death.

Let's be honest about this process. Yes, there was a process that ultimately led to a series of recommendations. The legislation that the committee has ultimately reported out in a bipartisan basis--working with Senator Corker, the ranking Republican on the committee--would deal with these challenges. It would deal with language issues. It would deal with the funding issue. It would deal with diplomatic security preparation, which we have scattered across a whole bunch of institutions that do not meet the goal. It would deal with all of these elements. It would create greater accountability.

Do you know what else it would do? It would let the Secretary of State have the ability to ultimately fire those individuals who might be found derelict in their duty, which is not presently in the law--the ability for the Secretary to pursue that.

So let's move that legislation. I hope my colleagues are going to support that as we move forward, to try to find the success that we want in making sure that our diplomats across the globe are as safe as humanly possible as they advocate America's national economic interests, its national interests, its national security interests, still always facing a risk but minimizing those risks to the greatest extent.

If not, then I certainly believe the garish light of attention should be placed upon the institution of the Congress, which is not meeting its responsibility as it relates to our diplomats abroad.

With that, I yield the floor.


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