Paul’s comments came after an Egyptian court on Tuesday sentenced 16 Americans to prison for allegedly seeking to undermine the government. The Americans were non-governmental organization (NGO) workers, some of whom were sentenced to prison terms as long as five years.

Last year, Egypt implemented a travel ban and detained American citizens, all of whom were NGO employees. Paul said that because of an amendment he offered last year to withhold all foreign aid to Egypt, the Egyptian government lifted the travel ban and allowed the NGO workers to leave. 

“If we had not threatened to cut off the $1.3 billion the United States sends in foreign aid, Egypt's government would not have lifted the travel ban and these Americans would be in prison,” Paul said.

Other lawmakers called on the Obama administration Tuesday to reconsider aid policies with Egypt.