But progress on the facility has stalled. The final environmental impact study the next step in the process missed its deadline. When she was asked about the departments plans, State Department Senior Management Analyst Christina Maier said in an email that budget sequestration had forced the administration to re-evaluate the plans.
Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., said in an interview that the delay of the Fort Pickett plan seemed counterintuitive, especially in light of concerns about embassy security.
If it was the best thing to do before Benghazi, the Accountability Review Board in the light of Benghazi demonstrates even more that its important that we get it done, he said. While I think that budget issues are very serious, embassy security isnt a place where we need to do a half-version.
Given the size of the U.S. budget deficit, the idea of spending hundreds of millions of dollars isnt palatable to everyone, however.
In May, Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., proposed a bill that would grant State all necessary funds for the center, but it was amended to immediately authorize $100 million for security training needs and allow an additional $350 million to build a center if the president deems it necessary.
To Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who questioned the initial request for a blank check, the compromise is suitable, as it doesnt force spending on a new site.
There is language in here that doesnt necessarily stipulate a facility would even be built, he said when the bill was amended in August. Passed out of committee, the bill awaits its turn on the Senate floor. Currently, there isnt a companion bill in the House of Representatives.
However, a dedicated training center remains in the State Department's sights. When Starr was asked in July whether he still thought the Fort Pickett site was the most consistent with department goals, he doubled down.
The answer is simple: Yes, sir, he said. We still believe that the site that we chose at Fort Pickett gives us the best ability to train the numbers of personnel that we need to train, to incorporate our partners in the various other U.S. government agencies that are critical to that training, to build the synergies that we have with our own Foreign Service Institute and our own training regimens up here.