Tillerson: State Department funding 'simply not sustainable'

Trevor Jackson
March 18, 2017

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, speaking March 16 in Japan in one of his first press availabilities since becoming America's top diplomat, offered support for a Trump administration proposal to slash the State Department's budget by nearly 30%. McPike, the IJR reporter, is traveling unilaterally and is not a pool reporter.

Acting State Department spokesman Mark Toner said in a phone briefing with reporters on Tuesday that the agency was considering "having a seat available" on Tillerson's aircraft.

"It was determined, and many of you. found out, that the one seat that was available, it was made a decision to take a journalist who was not. from an outlet that doesn't normally travel with the secretary as part of an effort to include a broader representation of USA media", acting spokesman Mark Toner said, the Examiner reported. In past cases when press access was limited, the State Department arranged for a journalist to join and send pool reports to other news outlets.

Erin McPike, a White House reporter for the Independent Journal Review, flew with Tillerson on his first Asia trip, triggering complaints from the press corps that normally covers foreign policy issues, the Washington Examiner reported. It also said the decision to travel without reporters was meant to cut costs. The department had previously told reporters covering Tillerson's trip to South Korea, Japan, and China that he would not be taking reporters on his plane and that they would have to fly commercially, breaking with decades of precedent stretching back to Henry Kissinger. He said the situation was challenging, but that he took on the challenge that Trump had given him "willingly".

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When speaking in Tokyo, Tillerson said the cuts to the department are important to fix the "historically high" budget, Reuters reported.

"We don't take this opportunity lightly and recognize the controversy surrounding press access for the trip", it said in a statement.

"We understand the challenge", the former Exxon Mobil CEO said.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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