The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

August 18, 2013

Congress split on cutting off aid to Egypt

(Continued)

Obama has denounced the violence, canceled joint military exercises scheduled for September and delayed the delivery of four F-16 fighter jets. But the White House has refused to declare Morsi's removal a coup — a step that would require Obama to suspend $1.3 billion in annual military aid. The president insists that the U.S. stands with Egyptians seeking a democratic government. But he says America cannot determine Egypt's future.

Sen. John McCain of Arizona renewed his call Sunday to stop aid as the Egyptian military continues to crack down on protesters seeking Morsi's return.

"For us to sit by and watch this happen is a violation of everything that we stood for," said the senior Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee. "We're not sticking with our values."

The military ousted Morsi July 3 after millions of Egyptians took to the streets to demand he step down, accusing him of giving the Brotherhood undue influence and failing to implement vital reforms or bolster the ailing economy.

But Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., said he supports the president's approach.

"These are very, very difficult choices," said Engel, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. "I'm very unhappy, obviously, with the crackdown. But we essentially have two choices in Egypt. And that's a military government, which hopefully will transition as quickly as possible to civilian government, or the Muslim Brotherhood. I don't think the Muslim Brotherhood is a choice."

Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., said Congress should give the president flexibility in dealing with Egypt.

"I do believe we have to change our aid," said Reed, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. "I think also we have to have included in the legislation a national security waiver, because we have to give the president not only the responsibility to deal with the government of Egypt but also flexibility."

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