The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed a proposal Thursday that aims to bolster security at U.S. embassies and diplomatic posts around the world in the aftermath of the attacks on a diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Libya, last year.
Committee Chairman Bob Menendez said the proposal, which passed on a voice vote, is a “very meaningful step in assuring the security of missions abroad and the safety of our foreign service personal.”
The New Jersey Democrat said the proposal would beef up embassy security and ensure that employees have both the proper security training and language skills needed to stay safe on the job. He said the bill gives the State Department more flexibility in hiring local security by allowing them to go with the “best value, not just the lowest bid” and gives the Secretary of State more flexibility in disciplining underperforming employees.
It also requires detailed reports from the State Department tracking the progress it is making in implementing the recommendations made by the Accountability Review Board (ARB) for Benghazi, and the identification of high risk facilities around the world.
“If we fail to act, if we fail to address these issues, there will be another incident,” Mr. Menendez said before the vote. “The responsibility is ours and the failure to act would be ours as well.”
The Sept. 11, 2012 attacks on the diplomatic post in Benghazi led to the deaths of J. Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, as well as Glen Doherty, Tyrone S. Woods and Sean Smith.
It also sparked a string of fiery hearing on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers looked to get to the bottom of what happened and traded partisan jabs over the Obama administration’s handling of the attack and its aftermath. The Menendez bill is named after the four men that died. It is called the “Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty Embassy Security, Threat Mitigation, and Personnel Protection Act of 2013 “