As Congress returned from its Fourth of July recess this week and began addressing the uncertain situation in Egypt, several Republican members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee called for a "wait-and-see" approach to the new president and government in Cairo.
While members approached Egypt in different ways, their general attitude stood in sharp contrast to that of Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona and his call on the administration to label the overthrow of President Mohammad Morsi a "coup" and thus cut off U.S. aid.
In a statement that was the polar opposite of McCain's stand, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, a California Republican, and ranking minority member Eliot Engel, a New York Democrat, said they were "encouraged that a broad cross-section of Egyptians will gather to rewrite the constitution.
"All parties in Egypt must show restraint, prevent violence, and prepare to be productive players in the future democratic Egypt. We encourage the military to exercise extreme caution moving forward and support sound democratic institutions through which the people and future governments can flourish," the congressmen said.
Although not endorsing Morsi's ouster by the Egyptian military, Royce and Engel also delivered a parting shot at the deposed Egyptian president.
"Real democracy requires inclusiveness, compromise, respect for human and minority rights, and a commitment to the rule of law," they said. "Morsi and his inner circle did not embrace any of these principles and instead chose to consolidate power and rule by fiat. As a result, the Egyptian people and their economy suffered greatly."
Two GOP members of the Middle East subcommittee of the Foreign Affairs panel also weighed in on the latest developments in Egypt in remarks that strongly differed with McCain's.
"I am hopeful that continued aid will maximize our influence as events unfold and assist the Egyptian people in their fight for freedom,” said Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois. "The United States must continue to insist on an orderly and democratic transition in Egypt. If the United States abandons a key point of leverage at this critical juncture, it will only increase the likelihood that violence and radicalization will pollute the process."
Republican Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, also a member of the Middle East subcommittee, told Newsmax, "Sen. McCain is right in part, in that what happened in Egypt last week has every indication of being a military coup. But what we have to do is take a step back and look at this very carefully. We try to apply our own constitutional standards to other parts of the world and they just aren't applicable."
Collins noted that the new government under acting President Adly Mansour had just announced that a new constitution would be written, that parliamentary elections would be held no later than February, and that the change was good from a democratic standpoint.
But, Collins said, he was concerned about the present situation in Egypt because of President Barack Obama's "hands-off" foreign-affairs policy.
"Look at what is going on in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey," Collins said, noting that unstable nations were "surrounding Israel, a country we have an acknowledged interest in and which is not being talked about at all."
"We can't be hands-off and pretend nothing has happened in Egypt," he said.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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