By Julian Pecquet - 02/01/13 12:14 AM EST
Two Republican senators introduced dueling legislation back-to-back Thursday to stop arms sales to Egypt.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) modeled his bill after a similar amendment to legislation suspending the debt limit that was defeated on the Senate floor, 79-19. The bill prohibits the sale of F-16 aircraft, tanks and other advanced weapons.
“I think it is a blunder of the first proportion to send sophisticated weapons to a country that allowed a mob to attack our embassy and to burn our flag,” Paul said on the Senate floor. “I find it objectionable to send weapons, F-16s and tanks, to a company that allowed a mob chanting ‘death to America’ to threaten our American diplomats.”
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the new ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, introduced similar legislation after voting against Paul's amendment but said an outright ban would cost the U.S. defense industry $2.2 billion and diminish America's leverage over Egypt. His bill wouldn't ban sales but would suspend them unless President Obama certifies that Egypt is committed to pursuing peaceful relations with Israel, providing security to U.S. embassies and consulates and respecting minority parties' rights.
“For decades, the U.S. has had a good relationship with Egypt, training their troops and working together to maintain peace and stability in the region, Inhofe said. “Under Muslim Brotherhood President Morsi, this relationship has come to a halt. We need to continue to support the Egyptian military, which Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood have currently distanced themselves from. Egypt’s military is our friend – Morsi is our enemy.”