In an exchange today with Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Hillary Clinton cited ”dysfunction” in Congress as causing difficulty deploying security in outposts like Benghazi, Libya. Here’s the exchange:
SMITH: Secretary of Defense Ash Carter just I think yesterday wrote an editorial in the Wall Street Journal about the impact of five years of budget uncertainty on the DOD’s ability to function. For five years we have gone through CRS, threatened government shutdowns, one actual government shutdown, and constant budget uncertainty. Now, my area is the Department of Defense. I know how it’s impacted them. They basically from one week to the next barely know what they can spend money on. One of the criticisms is that there should have been more security. But if you don’t have a budget, if you don’t have an appropriations bill, how does that complicate your job as secretary in trying to figure out what money you can spend?
CLINTON: Well, it makes it very difficult, congressman. And this is a subject that we talked about all the time, how do you plan. How do you know — you know, you have so many diplomatic security officers in so many dangerous places. How do you know what you’re going to have to be able to deploy, and where are you going to have to make the choices. That’s why the prioritization, which shouldn’t have to be, in my view, the responsibility of the officials in the State Department or the Defense Department, to try to guess what makes the most sense. We should have a much more orderly process for our budget. I would say again, as secretary of state, the kind of dysfunction and failure to make decisions that we’ve been living with in our government hurts us. It hurts us in the obvious ways, like where you’re going to deploy forces if you’re in DOD or where are we going to send security if you’re in the Department of State. But it hurts us as the great country that we are, being viewed from an abroad as unable to handle our own business. And so it has a lot of consequences. And it’s something that I wish we could get over and have our arguments about policy, have our arguments about substance, but get back to regular order, where we have the greatest nation in the world with a budget that then they can plan against as opposed to the uncertainty that has stalked us now for so long.
SMITH: So the bottom line is that Congress needs to do its job?
CLINTON: I would agree with that.