Calls Mount in Congress for Cutting Off Aid to Egypt

Image: Calls Mount in Congress for Cutting Off Aid to Egypt

Sunday, 18 Aug 2013 01:19 PM

By Greg Richter, Amy Woods and Sandy Fitzgerald

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Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison joined the call to suspend aid to Egypt on Sunday following the crackdown by the military last week that left hundreds dead.

The United States gave the military-installed interim government time to take appropriate actions, but now it's time to use the funds as bargaining chip, said Ayotte, who had previously supported continuing aid to Egypt.

Appearing Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press," Ayotte of New Hampshire said President Barack Obama was right to suspend joint military exercises and condemn violence last week, but he didn't go far enough.

"I think he fell short when he really didn't come out and call out the real question on the suspension of aid, because that is the real influence that we have with Egypt," Ayotte said.

Ellison of Minnesota said that the United States should pull back on aid to Egypt until the bloodshed stops and the strife-torn country returns to a path toward democracy.

"I would cut off aid," Ellison said on ABC's "This Week." "In my mind, there's no way to say that this was not a coup. It is. We should say so. And then we should follow our own law, which says we cannot fund the coup leaders."

Ellison said the administration needs to engage in "intense diplomacy" with Egypt, and Congress needs to "suspend aid" to the country until its leaders establish a set of Democratic protocols and stop the violence.

Ellison and Ayottte joined with the call being made by influential Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina to end the aid to Egypt.

Graham warned on Sunday that Egypt could become a "failed state" and a safe haven for al-Qaida.

"The [Muslim] Brotherhood will go underground, al-Qaida will come to their aid, and you're going to have an armed insurgency, not protesters, on your hands in the next 60 days or 90 days,” said Graham on CBS's "Face the Nation."

"We're going to have to suspend our aid because we can't support the reaction of the military, even though the Brotherhood overplaying their hand started this, we can't support what the military's doing in response," Graham said.

Graham, who just returned from a trip to Egypt with McCain, said, "What would happen if we cut off the aid is that Western tourism ends in Egypt for the foreseeable future for as far as the eye can see. Western investment comes to a standstill. Egypt becomes a begger client state of the Arab Gulf states. Egypt’s future is really damned."

McCain renewed his call on Sunday to stop the aid. "For us to sit by and watch this happen is a violation of everything that we stood for," said McCain on CNN's "State of the Union." "We're not sticking with our values."

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul said on "Fox News Sunday" that U.S. aid to Egypt was more likely to "buy a chateau in Paris" for an Egyptian military leader than "bread in Cairo" for the poor.

"I don't think we're buying any friendship with the Egyptian people," Paul said, especially when people see tanks supplied by the U.S. to the Egyptian military on the streets of Cairo.

"We are not winning the hearts and minds of the Egyptian people," said Paul. "The aid has to end."

But Republican Rep. Pete King of New York said on "Fox News Sunday" cutting aid could reduce U.S. influence over Egypt's interim government.

"I'm reluctant to cut off aid," said King.

Audrey Hudson contributed to this report.

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