An unlikely union: John McCain and Rand Paul agree about Egypt aid

August 16, 2013

It's not often that Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) are on the same page when it comes to foreign policy. But the crisis in Egypt has aligned them on at least one issue. Both favor suspending foreign aid to the most populous Arab country.

Here's a key part of McCain's joint statement with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.):

"It is neither in our long-term national interest nor consistent with our values and laws to continue providing assistance at this time to Egypt’s interim government and military. We urge the Obama Administration to suspend U.S. assistance to Egypt and make clear to the current leadership of the country what steps we believe are necessary to halt Egypt’s descent into civil conflict and ultimately to restore our assistance relationship, which has historically served U.S. national security interests."

And here's what Paul had to say:

"While President Obama 'condemns the violence in Egypt', his Administration continues to send billions of taxpayer dollars to help pay for it. The law is very clear when a coup d'état takes place, foreign aid must stop, regardless of the circumstances. With more than 500 dead and thousands more injured this week alone, chaos only continues to grow in Egypt. So Mr. President, stop skirting the issue, follow the law, and cancel all foreign aid to Egypt."

McCain and Paul are typically at odds when it comes to foreign policy. Paul's libertarian approach has clashed with McCain's hawkish leanings. McCain was very critical, for example, of Paul's filibuster of now-CIA Director John Brennan over the Obama administration's policy on unmanned drones, calling the Kentucky Republican a "wacko bird."

But their agreement on this issue is a reminder that 1) Foreign policy views are not always so clear-cut and can't always be neatly classified and 2) The Obama administration is going to feel pressure from multiple fronts to suspend aid, given that two typically competing wings of the GOP have lined up behind the idea.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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Sean Sullivan | August 16, 2013