House GOP moves to punish State Dept. over Benghazi delays

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Following through on a threat, House Republicans on Tuesday proposed cutting the State Department's budget to protest its slow response in producing documents related to the investigation of the terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

The House Appropriations Committee said a budget plan for the State Department withholds nearly $700 million -- or 15 percent of the agency's operational funds -- until "requirements related to proper management of Freedom of Information Act and electronic communications are met."

The chairman of the Benghazi panel, Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, and other Republicans have complained that the State Department has delayed providing emails and other documents involving former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and some of her top staffers.

Gowdy and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., threatened last month to withhold some State Department spending to ensure that officials move more quickly to comply with the committee's requests for documents.

A spokeswoman for the Appropriations panel said the budget plan withholds funds until State develops and implements a plan to reduce a backlog of FOIA and congressional requests.

Separately, a federal judge last week ordered the State Department to release monthly batches of Clinton's email correspondence from her time as the nation's top diplomat starting June 30.

Clinton, a Democratic candidate for president, used a personal server and email address while serving as secretary of state. The State Department has said it needs more time to unveil the 55,000 pages of emails released by Clinton to the department. The department has released nearly 300 emails relating to the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya.

The spending plan proposed by the GOP-controlled panel provides the full amount that President Barack Obama requested for embassy security at more than 275 diplomatic facilities overseas, including facility upgrades and increased security personnel, as recommended by a review board appointed by the State Department to investigate the Benghazi attacks.

To help pay for those improvements, the bill eliminates voluntary contributions to the United Nations and other international organizations.