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House leader mulls embassy security funds

Aug. 2, 2013 at 1:55 PM

WASHINGTON, Aug. 2 (UPI) -- The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee said U.S. embassy staff based overseas needs the best protection money can buy.

Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., said House leaders moved in line behind a proposal for a "fiscally responsible" measure to improve security for U.S. diplomats stationed overseas.

His measure comes as critics of President Obama express frustration over how the administration responded to the September terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which left U.S. Ambassador Chrtistopher Stevens and three of his staff members dead.

Royce said his proposal was in response to that attack. His proposal includes requirements for a designated quick-reaction force meant to respond to any crisis.

Obama's critics say the administration was lax in responding to the attacks last year.

The $4.83 billion in funding proposed by Royce for embassy security is 9 percent less than designated last year, though he said it "fully funds" embassy security needs.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said "certain" U.S. embassies and consulates would be closed Sunday as a security precaution.

"The department has been apprised of information that, out of an abundance of caution and care for our employees and others who may be visiting our installations, indicates we should institute these precautionary steps," she said in a statement Thursday.

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