Congress and the White House face a dilemma in deciding whether — and how — to support the military coup of the democratically elected government in Egypt. Under existing law, the $1.5 billion a year in U.S. aid to Egypt is at risk unless Congress acts.
The fiscal 2012 omnibus spending law prohibits foreign aid to governments of any country “whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup,” at least until a new democratically elected government has taken office.
“Our law is clear: U.S. aid is cut off when a democratically elected government is deposed by military coup or decree,” said Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., the chairman of the appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over foreign aid, in a statement late Wednesday. “As we work on the new budget, my committee also will review future aid to the Egyptian government as we wait for a clearer picture. As the world’s oldest democracy, this is a time to reaffirm our commitment to the principle that transfers of power should be by the ballot, not by force of arms.”
The prohibition on aid could complicate the picture in Egypt and the options for the White House as President Barack Obama considers his reaction to the military takeover of power in Egypt from President Mohammed Morsi.
Obama issued a lengthy statement late Wednesday expressing concern about the situation.
“The United States is monitoring the very fluid situation in Egypt, and we believe that ultimately the future of Egypt can only be determined by the Egyptian people,” he said. “Nevertheless, we are deeply concerned by the decision of the Egyptian Armed Forces to remove President Morsy and suspend the Egyptian constitution. I now call on the Egyptian military to move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible through an inclusive and transparent process, and to avoid any arbitrary arrests of President Morsy and his supporters. Given today’s developments, I have also directed the relevant departments and agencies to review the implications under U.S. law for our assistance to the Government of Egypt.” Full story