The State Department has told Congress that it plans to close seven overseas posts because of budget cuts and may have to close many more if major reductions are ordered in the next few months under the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings process or for other reasons.
Department sources said the seven that are scheduled to be closed in the first wave of reductions are U.S. consulates in Nice, France; Winnipeg, Canada; Salvador de Bahai, Brazil; Trieste, Italy; Bremen, Germany; Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and Seville, Spain.
About $4 million annually will be saved by eliminating these seven of the 263 U.S. diplomatic missions, according to departmental calculations. Because personnel costs and everyday operations are such a large proportion of State Department expenditures, officials said, any larger budget cuts are likely to cause large-scale closing of U.S. missions and big reductions in diplomatic and support personnel.
Another 40 or so diplomatic posts might have to be closed if Congress orders additional cuts of $100 million or more in State Department spending, as some lawmakers have suggested.
State is awaiting word from Capitol Hill before taking final action on the seven posts it has targeted for closing. In the past, protests from members of Congress and the public have sometimes prevented the elimination of U.S. missions abroad.