Senator Rand Paul has introduced an amendment to the Highway Bill (S. 1813) calling for an immediate suspension of foreign aid to Egypt until detained American citizens are released by the Egyptian government.
In the senator’s words:
We are subsidizing behavior through US taxpayer foreign aid to Egypt that is leading and allowing for the unjust detainment of American citizens in Egypt.
Not everyone in this body agrees on foreign policy or on the role of US foreign assistance but the reckless actions of Egyptian authorities in the matter should bring us together to form one undeniable conclusion: American foreign assistance dollars should never be provided to any country that bullies our citizens, recklessly seeks to arrest them on imaginary charges or denies them access to their most basic rights.
The Egyptian Ministry of Justice recently announced it will try 19 American citizens — many of whom have endured detention and interrogation since their pro-democracy offices were raided last month — on charges of illegal operations and receiving funds from abroad without consent of the government in Cairo. This international incident represents the latest and most egregious effort on the part of military leadership in Egypt to hector any attempt to support the nascent democratic process.
Technically the amendment cannot be attached to the bill until the legislation is formally addressed later this afternoon or tomorrow, but Senator Paul has staked claim to the matter, which I expect will enjoy robust support among his fellow senators.
UPDATE: It appears the cessation of aid would also hinge on the return of “property” belonging to those non-governmental organizations and the personal property of staff. When the raids occurred, laptops, files and (allegedly) hundreds of thousands of dollars of cash were confiscated from IRI and NDI offices, among others.