Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul believes he has enough backing to pass an amendment next month to cut off aid to Egypt, a plan that many of his fellow Republicans have resisted.
Paul's efforts are being boosted because of the Egyptian military crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood protesters, reports The Hill
"It's going to be an interesting debate to watch because I think the traditional lines appear to be shifting on the Egypt issue," a senior GOP aide said, noting that Paul plans to force another vote on his bill to cut the $1.3 billion the United States sends to Egypt annually.
Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain had been resisting cuts in Egypt's aid, saying Paul's efforts would be "a terrific mistake." But he acknowledged earlier this month, along with South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, that continuing the aid while violent street clashes continue is inappropriate
"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," he and Graham wrote in a joint statement after returning from a trip to Egypt.
With McCain's change of view, a Paul amendment to stop aid could have a better outcome than his last attempt in July, when senators voted 86-13 to table his plan to redirect the aid to be used to repair domestic infrastructure instead.
Policy experts, however, believe McCain and Paul will still argue over the details of how to go about suspending aid, The Hill reported.
Michael Rubin, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute specializing in the Middle East, predicts Paul will win the vote to cut off aid, but said the sides will argue about when to restore it.
Democrats like Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut say future aid should be tied to steps to "return toward Democracy," and Rubin believes McCain will argue to give President Barack Obama flexibility in administer the support to Egypt.
"He ultimately is traditional and old-school, and when push comes to shove, he’ll defer to the White House on implementation by ensuring that there are enough waivers and loopholes to get through what needs to get through," Rubin told The Hill.
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