Top Foreign Relations Republican Sen. Richard Lugar Wants State Department to Justify Budget

Mar 2, 2011 10:27am

 ABC's Kirit Radia and Z. Byron Wolf report:

There was a a potentially ominous sign for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as she fights for the State Dept budget against fiscally-minded Republicans.

While Clinton was testifying before a House panel yesterday about the unrest in the Middle East and warning against steep cuts in the diplomatic budget, her top GOP ally, Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Dick Lugar put out a terse statement.

In a press release he "cautioned the State Department that all requested spending, at this time of economic and fiscal hardship in America, will have to pass the acid test of whether foreign assistance programs contribute to national security and economic development."

Lugar has long been a favorite Republican of Democrats. He worked with President Obama, for instance, when the President was a Senator, on legislation seeking to secure loose nuclear weapons.

But now Lugar is a top target of Tea Party activists in Indiana. He is running for reelection in 2012 and is already facing a tough primary challenge  from Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdouck.

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