State Department: ‘Absurd’ for Congress to Cut Funding Because of Slow FOIA Response

By Meredith Dake
Posted June 3, 2015 at 12:30am
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State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf pushed back on suggestions that “punishment” from Congress would help the release of emails from the Department concerning the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on U.S. personnel in Benghazi, Libya. Harf said the cut in funding would be “counterproductive” and told reporters the department has been ” incredibly forthcoming with Congress on this issue.” Read the transcript below, via : do you have any reaction to House Appropriations, I don’t think it’s been fixed yet, but a plan that would withhold hundreds of millions of dollars from the State Department budget as punishment for delays in handing over Benghazi documents? Yes. We’ve seen that. We’re obviously committed to openness in transparency in government, and when it comes to Benghazi documents, we’ve been incredibly forthcoming with Congress on this issue, and we are working to get more out publicly as well as we’ve always said. And I think it is sort of counter-productive to threaten to cut funding for the precise people you need working to provide you with more information. So, I’m not sure if this is actually designed to get the outcome they want to sort of make a more political statement, but we are working every day to face the challenges with the number of requests certainly from FOIA. the number of congressional oversight requests has dramatically increased. So we’re putting more resources towards that effect, so I’m not sure why you would want to cut resources. It seems like that would be a counter-productive argument. Well, I don’t know if they would be earmarked for reduction from the FOIA office per se, but you would — you would be upset that… Check with him and see where they’d come from. I’m curious what they would say. I imagine that any reduction whatsoever… Correct. … to the mission of this agency. Correct. And even if they’re not to the FOIA office, there are a number of departments or bureaus in parts of this building, offices that respond to congressional oversight requests and respond to FOIA. It’s not just those offices. So, I’ve heard rumors that they’ve proposed cuts for example to legislative affairs. That seems to me to be totally absurd. Why would you cut funding from people who are helping get you information? Are you — are you in discussions with House appropriators about expressing your views on such procedures? I’m happy to check and see privately what we’ve found. I think I just made our view pretty clear.