Secretary Clinton: House Republican budget cuts will endanger national security
Updated: 3:30 p.m.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday afternoon that the spending levels outlined by House Republicans late last week for the remainder of the fiscal year would endanger the country's national security.
"The scope of the proposed House cuts is massive," Clinton told reporters at a Capitol news conference after attending a luncheon meeting with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). "The truth is that cuts of that level will be detrimental to America's national security."
Clinton said that she had a "very productive" meeting with Boehner at which the two discussed a wide range of topics from the continued funding of the federal government to the developments in Egypt. Noting that the funding resolution proposed by House Republicans last week would cut State and USAID funding by 16 percent compared to FY 2010 levels, Clinton said she told Boehner that she was "very clear" about her "deep concerns" about the cuts and what they would mean for the work being done by both departments, particularly regarding the U.S. mission in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"We would be forced to scale back significantly our mission in the frontline states of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan where we work side-by-side with the American military," Clinton said. "We would also be required to roll back critical health, food security, climate change, border security and trade promotion efforts abroad as well."
Clinton also said that it was "somewhat frustrating" that funding for the work done by State and USAID is not classified as "security" spending despite the national security implications of that work. She added that Boehner acknowledged that Defense Department officials are among the "strongest supporters" of the State Department and USAID.
"Our strongest supporters, as the speaker mentioned to me, are the leaders of our military and our Defense Department; Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen, General Cartwright and so many others," Clinton said. "Why? Because they understand that if we don't have a robust civilian presence in these frontline states, we cannot make the progress that we are seeking. ... Our colleagues in the Defense Department have been our strongest supporters, and the speaker is well aware of that."
A Boehner spokesperson reiterated House Republicans' commitment to reducing spending and expressed confidence that members of the military and civilians working abroad will have the resources necessary to do their jobs.
"The American people know we're broke -- we're borrowing 41 cents out of every dollar we spend," Boehner spokesperson Michael Steel said. "Right now, we need to stop the Washington spending spree so the economy can grow and the private sector can create more jobs. We have confidence that the soldiers and diplomats serving in harm's way will have the resources they need to protect America."
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) also dismissed the notion that the House Republican plan would endanger national security.
"My position, as far as that funding is concerned, we asked the appropriators to go about trying to identify cuts that we could withstand to bring spending back to '08 levels without jeopardizing our national security," Cantor said at his weekly pen-and-pad briefing.
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