Sen. Leahy threatens to cut off Egyptian aid

The chairman of a key Senate Appropriations subcommittee threatened to cut off aid to Egypt if Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak does not step down before the scheduled fall elections.

In an interview Wednesday night with MSNBC, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who chairs the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs subcommittee, which oversees the State Department and international programs, said the U.S. should not continue to send money to Egypt with Mubarak in charge.

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"We have a lot of aid in the pipeline now, that pipeline would be turned off," Leahy said. "There is nobody, Republican or Democratic in the Senate and I suspect in the House, that's going to vote for an aid package for Egypt under these circumstances."

Mubarak said Tuesday he would not run again in September elections. But protesters continued to call for him to step down immediately, and demonstrations turned violent Wednesday. The Obama administration has urged Mubarak to step down as quickly as possible, saying, “Now means now.”

Leahy laid out conditions for continued aid to Egypt, which receives some $1.3 billion each year from the United States.

"Aid will continue to Egypt if you have somebody that comes in with credibility that tries to help the people trying to help those that are unemployed, those who are not being fed, somebody who wants to try and bring some order so one of their largest cash projects in Egypt tourism can come back," Leahy said. 

Leahy said Congress will vote on a new foreign-aid bill in the coming weeks or months, and, if Mubarak remains in power by then, Egypt could find itself without any funding from the United States.

"The money that's in the pipeline right now is controlled by the administration," Leahy said. "The Congress will be facing, in a matter of weeks or months…[a] foreign-aid bill, but there is no way, unless [there is] credibility."