Tillerson Is Letting $79M Collect Dust

The Global Engagement Center could get the money, but hasn't
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 2, 2017 8:29 AM CDT
In this April 7, 2017, file photo Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, left, listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach,...   (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

(Newser) – It garnered a small two-paragraph mention in a hefty Foreign Policy piece on Monday: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has $79 million at his disposal for fighting ISIS propaganda—he just has to sign two memos to get it. And he hasn't. Politico reports the funding all relates to the State Department-based Global Engagement Center, an interagency entity that came into existence last year and is tasked with countering "disinformation" from ISIS and countries like Russia and North Korea. Legislation signed by former President Obama grants the center $60 million in funding from the Defense Department in this fiscal year and another $60 million in the next. But Tillerson has yet to ask the Pentagon to transfer the funds to State; he has until Sept. 30 to do so.

As for the other roughly $20 million, Politico reports it's also earmarked for the center and is sitting untouched at State. (FP's take is slightly different, that a memo has to be sent to Congress to get that money.) Politico talks to myriad unnamed sources who read into the situation, with four storylines emerging: that in its five months under Tillerson, decision-making at State has moved at a molasses-like pace; that there is wariness about putting funding to use in a way that could further needle Moscow; that President Trump's desire to cut the department's budget has Tillerson tightening the purse strings; and that Tillerson has favored the advice of a small group of aides—State Department outsiders—when it comes to decision-making. FP has much more on the latter point. (Read more Rex Tillerson stories.)

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