Republican Representative Trey Gowdy, the Chairman for the House Select Committee on Benghazi, is trying to stop the flow of non-security funding money to the State Department over documents related to the incident, The Hill reported. The Benghazi committee is working with the House Appropriations Committee’s state and foreign operations bill to withhold “15 percent of State Department’s operational funds until requirements related to proper management of Freedom of Information Act [FOIA] and electronic communications are met,” Republicans said in a statement.
Republicans on the committee have been trying to obtain documents related to Hillary Clinton’s role as Secretary of State during the attack, which killed several Americans.
Gowdy told the National Federation of Pachyderm Clubs that the move has come out of desperation. “(Lawmakers) tried public shame, it didn’t work. We’ve tried threats and subpoenas and letters, that hasn’t worked.
“What has worked was when we partnered with our friends on appropriations and let the State Department and other agencies know, your money will be cut if you do not provide us with documents,” Gowdy said.
The highest ranking Democrat on the Benghazi committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland slammed Gowdy for the threat. “Reducing State Department funding and personnel will only further slowdown and drag out the Republican’s taxpayer-funded political attack on Secretary Clinton,” Cummings said in a statement.
“The fact is that the Department has already produced Secretary Clinton’s Benghazi-related emails, and the Committee has had them for months. It makes no sense to cut the Department’s budget while continuing to give the Select Committee a blank check.”
Cummings later denounced Gowdy’s pronouncement at what he called a political event. "Republicans continue to use the deaths of four brave Americans in Benghazi as a political rallying cry — and fundraising tool — which is offensive, reprehensible, and contrary to the promises we made to the loved ones of those who were killed during the 2012 attacks,” Cummings said in a statement.
“Chairman Gowdy should halt these activities immediately.”
Alec Gerlach, a spokesman for the State Department, said a fund cut would be “counterproductive.”
“The State Department is committed to openness and transparency in government. We do face challenges with the number of requests for documents and we’re working to meet them head on — achieving a near 14 percent reduction in our appeals backlog last year,” Gerlach said in a statement.
“But, since 2008, our FOIA caseload has increased by more than 300 percent. In Fiscal Year 2008, the State Department received fewer than 6,000 new FOIA requests, but last year we received nearly 20,000 and that number continues to rise. The number of Congressional oversight requests has also dramatically increased.”
The State Department has already released thousands of Hillary Clinton’s emails to the Benghazi committee.