The Obama Administration is in violation of federal law by continuing to send U.S. aid to Egypt after a military takeover forced President Mohammed Morsi from power, charged Rep. Ted Poe, a Texas Republican.
"Our Foreign Assistance Act actually says that if there is a military coup and the government is disposed, then we are to cut off aid to that country. That's in the law and you would think we would hope, I would hope, the president would just follow the law," Poe said in an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV.
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"There's no excuse for really just justifying this continued aid to Egypt," said Poe, a member of the House Judiciary and Foreign Affairs committees.
Poe said the White House is trying to sidestep the law by failing to call the military move in Egypt a coup allowing it to continue sending $1.5 billion a year in assistance to Cairo, most of which goes to the military.
"The president, Jay Carney said well it's not really a coup it's something else," Poe said. "Well it looks like a coup, it sounds like a coup, it is a coup, you call it something else. It is a military coup; we should not be giving money until we at least let the smoke settle and see who's in charge. We should withhold that foreign assistance."
Carney, the White House spokesman, again Tuesday refused to call the political power grab in Egypt a coup.
"We have not made a determination about what to call or label the events in Egypt that led to the change in government there," Carney said.
Poe said it is now up to Congress to push President Obama to obey the law and suspend the aid.
"It's important that Congress press the administration to follow the law. This is not the first time the administration has decided to ignore law and go his own way," Poe said. "Unfortunately we have to make the president follow the law. He doesn't do it on his own."
Poe went on to blame much of the current upheaval in Cairo on the Obama Administration’s lack of a consistent foreign policy with Egypt and other nations caught up in the Arab Spring.
"I don't know that we even have a policy, we don't know which side we're on," said Poe, insisting that the White House has lurched from supporting former Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak, then Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood-backed administration, and now the military’s interim government.
"That was a mistake to side with the Muslim Brotherhood to begin with but it's difficult for us as Americans to really know what our foreign policy is in the Middle East. It depends on the day of the week, it's a different policy for different countries, there is inconsistent policy," he said.
On the subject of immigration reform, Poe said it is up to the House Republican majority to come up with its own legislation rather than merely taking up the bipartisan Senate bill that is backed by Obama.
"The Senate legislation has numerous problems in it. The House, as of today, is not going to take up the Senate bill, and we shouldn’t. We should pass our own legislation and we are methodically moving through those issues," Poe said.
Poe said the House Republicans are hard at work crafting legislation to improve border security.
"We have passed some legislation regarding interior enforcement which is very important. E-Verify's been passed. So we're passing several pieces of legislation through the committee process. Next, we need to work on temporary guest workers and see what's best for the United States regarding temporary guest workers.
"We will work on those, we will pass certain legislation, bring that to the House floor when it's all completed, and we will pass our own legislation, said Poe, insisting that "it’s very important" that "conservatives have a conservative bill or bills."
Poe declined to handicap the chances of immigration reform being passed by Congress this year.
"But our duty now, as conservatives, is to lead in the House with immigration legislation to make sure that it's fair and that it is something that we can actually pass in the House of Representatives that will work to solve these numerous problems. That's our duty," he said.
Republicans will spend two hours Wednesday in conference to sort out their positions on immigration reform.
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