Chairwoman Mikulski Emphasizes Security for American Personnel Serving Overseas

For Immediate Release April 18, 2013

Contact: Rob Blumenthal (202) 224-1010 / Eve Goldsher (202) 224-3751

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Chairwoman of the full Senate Appropriations Committee, today emphasized protecting the security of American personnel serving overseas in a State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Subcommittee hearing on the Department of State Fiscal Year 2014 budget request. The following are Chairwoman Mikulski’s remarks, as prepared for delivery:

"Secretary Kerry, I’m happy to have you here today. I’m here to highlight several issues and to support Senators Leahy and Graham in their first State-Foreign Operations hearing this year. I’m looking forward to working together in a bipartisan way to move this bill and go back to regular order.

"Secretary Kerry, I want to congratulate you. We have a long standing relationship and have worked together in the Senate for many years. We’re proud of you as you begin your service as America’s top diplomat. You are certainly working hard to fill those ‘big heels’ left by Secretary Clinton. You are already making an impact, with three trips and almost 20 countries visited during your first three months in office, working so hard to advance America’s interests.

"I would also like to salute the men and women who work for you. I’m afraid they’re not always valued or treasured as much as those at the top, but they are out there on the front lines every day, and each and every one of them deserves our support and our thanks.

"Our hearts go out to family of Anne Smedinghoff, who gave her life in the line of duty. It is important that we do everything we can to ensure our diplomat’s security, and to make sure they know that we are looking after them and their families.

"But providing this security costs money, and that’s why I support the President’s budget request level of $1.058 trillion for discretionary programs. This is the same as the deal we made three months ago in the American Taxpayer Relief Act, which passed the Senate 89 to 8. A deal should be a deal.

"In contrast, the Ryan budget and sequester level would be $966 billion. This is $92 billion less than the President’s request. We need a balanced approach to end sequester, that includes both revenues and targeted cuts, so we can give protect American personnel overseas.

"The President’s fiscal year 2014 budget proposes $2.6 billion for Embassy security, construction, and maintenance, an increase over his request for fiscal year 2013. The fiscal year 2014 budget also proposes $2.18 billion for worldwide security protection programs, also an increase from the fiscal year 2013 request. After the attacks on our embassy in Benghazi, and the recent murder of Anne Smedinghoff and four other Americans, these additional resources are critical.

"My concern is for the people who work in the embassies or in the field in countries abroad and die in the line of duty. For more than 10 years I have been working with the Bartley family, trying to get compensation for 12 Americans killed in our embassy in Nairobi in the 1998 Al Qaeda attack. Julian Bartley, Sr. was the first African-American Consul General in Nairobi. His son, Julian, Jr. was also killed. Julian went by the name ‘Jay.’ He was 20 years old, and he was interning at the embassy.

"The 12 American victims had more than 110 years of combined service to the United States government. The victims were serving their country, at their duty station, which is equivalent to American soil abroad. They gave their lives for their country, and their government has given only excuses to the families of the victims.

"These families suffered three injustices from the United States Government. Failure to protect their loved ones from a known threat. Failure to treat them the same as other Al Qaeda victims. And finally, failure to right previous wrongs with compensation today. I hope I can get a commitment to work with you to get a plan from the State Department to compensate these victims.

"I look forward to hearing your testimony on how the budget supports strong United States engagement around the world. Secretary Kerry, I have deep respect for your commitment to service and I have tremendous faith in the advice and counsel you give to President Obama."