Dreier ready for final election round in Egypt

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Dreier is the sponsor of a bipartisan resolution calling for negotiations of an Egypt-U.S. free trade agreement. His visit comes as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are rethinking America's traditional aid to Egypt, which added up to $1.5 billion this year — $1.3 billion of it as military aid.

Like many Egyptian voters left only with a choice between the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi and Hosni Mubarak's last prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, many lawmakers are already souring on Egypt's short experience with democracy.

“The recent decision by the Egyptian court obviously throws into question the future of the transition,” Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the author of conditions on aid to Egypt that the White House waived earlier this year, said in a statement Friday. “Parliament has been dissolved and the military has reaffirmed martial law and has assumed whatever authority the parliament had.

“There also is the question of whether the victor of the presidential runoff will be allowed to actually assume the authority of the office. I am closely following developments in Egypt. I have made clear to the State Department that, despite the earlier waiver of the conditions I authored, I would not want to see the U.S. government write checks for contracts with Egypt's military under the present uncertain circumstances.”

He's not the only one with concerns.

“I certainly think we will be watching very closely what actions the new president takes, whoever is elected,” said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “Obviously we would like to see them continue to progress toward democratic reforms, human rights and rule of law and many of the other issues that the country has been working on.”

Dreier counters that the decision to dissolve parliament was not unexpected given that some nominally independent members had ties to political parties, in violation of the law.

“I do believe that there is greater independence on the part of the judiciary than many people believe,” Dreier told The Hill. “I know that there's skepticism, but one of the things I have said is I don't believe there's anybody who's in complete control of this country. I don't believe the SCAF are in complete control and I think that they're enthused about turning over power as soon as possible. I just wouldn't say that this is a unilateral decision made by the SCAF.”

Dreier said he met with the army's candidate, former Mubarak prime minister Ahmed Shafiq, for two hours on Friday and urged him to support democracy.

“I think that right now, as we look at these challenging and uncertain days through which the Egyptian people are moving, we need to do everything that we can to make sure that they continue down that path,” he said.