More senators call for suspension of Egypt aid

August 18, 2013

Several senators on Sunday joined the growing chorus of lawmakers calling for the United States to suspend aid to Egypt amid the eruption of deadly violence there.

"Now with the recent violent crackdown, I do not see how we can continue aid," said Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) on NBC's "Meet The Press." "I believe it must be suspended."

Speaking on the same program, Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) said, "I do believe we have to change our aid."

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on ABC's "This Week With George Stephanopoulos," "I think the actions of the last week are no doubt going to cause us to suspend aid." Corker added that he advocates a "suspension but recalibration" of aid, with an eye on maintaining it in the long term.

The latest comments from the senators represent a shift. Corker last month cautioned against rushing into discussions about cutting off aid. And Reed had said he didn't think cutting off aid would increase the odds of Egypt implementing a Democratic government.

The U.S. provides $1.6 billion in annual U.S. assistance to Egypt, much of it going toward financing purchases of U.S. military equipment. The Egyptian military's violent crackdown against defenders of Mohamed Morsi, the ousted president, has led to increasing pressure from members of Congress for the U.S. to suspend its aid to the military. 

President Obama last week cancelled a joint training exercise with Egypt's military planned for next month, a measured response that has left some members of Congress dissatisfied. The Obama administration also is  also debating whether to stop next month’s scheduled delivery of new Apache AH-64D aircraft.

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who have been calling for the United States to suspend aid, reiterated their views Sunday.

"We do have influence, but when you don't use that influence, you do not have that influence," McCain said on CNN's "State of the Union."

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said on "Fox News Sunday" that future aid to Egypt should be conditional "on specific steps toward the rule of law and return to democracy."

But other members of Congress cautioned against suspending aid.

"We certainly shouldn't cut off all aid," said Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) on "Fox News Sunday."

Speaking on "This Week," Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), the ranking member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said, "I think we have to be very careful and not ct off our nose to spite our face."

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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