By Daniel Strauss - 04/18/12 04:57 PM EDT
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) wants President Obama to suspend financial aid to Egypt.
In an open letter sent out on Wednesday, Paul asks Obama to cut off aid to the country until Egyptian authorities withdraw "arrest warrants" on a number of American citizens.
The letter follows a failed attempt by Paul to attach an amendment cutting off aid to Egypt to a Postal Service reform bill (S.1789). Paul tried to bring the legislation up for a vote but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) blocked it by invoking a procedural measure.
"Whether or not you believe foreign aid is a good idea, can’t we all agree that a country that is pursuing international arrest warrants for U.S. citizens for 'political purposes' should not get our aid?" Paul said.
Paul urged Obama to cancel American aid until the arrest warrants are completely canceled.
"I urge you to reverse the decision to release aid to Egypt, and to hold all aid until such time as the politically motivated prosecution of U.S. citizens had ended," he said.
Here's the complete letter:
Dear President Obama,
On March 15, I wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, urging your Administration to delay release of U.S. aid to Egypt.
In that letter, I noted that while the Egyptian government had released the pro-democracy American workers who had been held captive for weeks in Egypt, they had not abandoned the prosecution. In fact, they had demanded signed statements saying our citizens would return for the trial.
I also warned that the Egyptian government had not proved either its stability or its commitment to freedom and democracy. It had clearly not yet met the criteria set forth by Congress that would allow the aid to be distributed.
It literally took the threat of losing that aid to get our citizens released in the first place. Why would we then foolishly believe the Egyptians would suddenly behave better after the Administration released billions in aid to its coffers?
Our fears were unfortunately confirmed in recent days, as the Egyptian government has now begun the process of seeking arrest warrants for Americans, some of whom were in Egypt, some of whom were not even recently in Egypt – and all work for pro-democracy non-governmental organizations like Freedom House and the International Republican Institute.
Your State Department is reported to be petitioning Interpol to dismiss the charges and not issue arrest warrants. Obviously, this is the right thing to do, and I support your request. However, this brings up a larger question.
Your State Department is using as its reasoning that the charges from the Egyptian government are “politically motivated.” If that is true, that is a sad statement on our recent decision to release their aid.
Why would a country that is pursuing the “politically motivated” prosecution of American citizens be eligible for every a single dime of U.S. foreign aid, never mind the $2 billion in taxpayer dollars about to be sent.
The Egyptian government has, in the span of a few short months, arrested Americans, seized their property, and held them captive. They have demanded U.S. taxpayer-funded “bail” money to release them. Now they have begun the process of international arrest warrants.
As you know, I am often an opponent of foreign aid. I think it is a poor use of taxpayers’ money, and has often gone to regimes that were either anti-freedom, or anti-American, or just plain corrupt. The situation with Egypt is, unfortunately, an excellent example.
Whether or not you believe foreign aid is a good idea, can’t we all agree that a country that is pursuing international arrest warrants for U.S. citizens for “political purposes” should not get our aid?
The system of foreign aid is broken. Congress placed specific conditions on aid to Egypt, but our State Department simply waived its obligation to hold Egypt to those conditions—an action that was not the intent or preference of Congress. Releasing Egypt’s aid at this point is in defiance of all common sense.
I urge you to reverse the decision to release aid to Egypt, and to hold all aid until such time as the politically motivated prosecution of U.S. citizens had ended.
Rand Paul, M.D.
United States Senator