Rand Paul unveils bill to block Egypt aid

Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulHouse bill set to reignite debate on warrantless surveillance Authorizing military force is necessary, but insufficient GOP feuds with outside group over analysis of tax framework MORE (R-Ky.) on Thursday unveiled legislation to end U.S. aid to Egypt, calling last week’s takeover by the military a “coup.”

“The overthrow of the Egyptian government was a coup d’état, and the law is clear that when a coup takes place, foreign aid must stop,” Paul said. “But the President still plans to continue to send aid to Egypt.”

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“By the President’s refusal to call the situation in Egypt a ‘coup’ and continuing the flow of foreign assistance to Egypt, he is forthrightly saying, ‘I am ignoring the rule of law,'” he added.

Last week, Egyptian military officers deposed democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi. The Obama administration is still weighing whether to label the move a coup, a decision that would trigger laws freezing the $1.3 billion in annual aid to Egypt.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday that the administration was still assessing the situation. 

“We will take our time and the time necessary to make determinations regarding what happened last week and the change in leadership, the removal of President Morsi from power,” he said.

It is unclear how much support Paul’s measure would have, as most lawmakers have expressed caution about punishing Egypt’s military or losing U.S. leverage over the Arab nation.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezOvernight Health Care: House passes 20-week abortion ban | GOP gives ground over ObamaCare fix | Price exit sets off speculation over replacement You want to recall John McCain? Good luck, it will be impossible Poll: Most in NJ want Menendez to resign if found guilty MORE (D-N.J.) on Sunday said that Egypt aid could be used as leverage to press the military to transition more quickly back to civilian rule.

The ranking member on the panel, Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerDeficit hawks voice worry over direction of tax plan The Hill Interview: Budget Chair Black sticks around for now Overnight Finance: White House requests B for disaster relief | Ex-Equifax chief grilled over stock sales | House panel approves B for border wall | Tax plan puts swing-state Republicans in tough spot MORE (R-Tenn.), said the administration should urge “calm” in Egypt, amid violent clashes between Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood supporters and opponents.

Sens. Carl LevinCarl LevinPresident Trump, listen to candidate Trump and keep Volcker Rule Republicans can learn from John McCain’s heroism Trump and GOP wise to keep tax reform and infrastructure separate MORE (D-Mich.) and John McCainJohn Sidney McCainRubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad with pro-communist posts The VA's woes cannot be pinned on any singular administration Overnight Defense: Mattis offers support for Iran deal | McCain blocks nominees over Afghanistan strategy | Trump, Tillerson spilt raises new questions about N. Korea policy MORE (R-Ariz.), however, have urged that the administration call the action a coup and suspend aid.

Paul was particularly infuriated by reports that the Pentagon has decided to continue with the scheduled delivery of four F-16 fighter jets to Egypt in the coming weeks as the administration makes its determination. 

Earlier this year, the Senate defeated by a 79-19 vote a Paul amendment to a debt limit bill, which would have banned the administration from providing F-16s and other weapons to Egypt after legal charges were introduced against 43 nongovernmental organization workers, including 16 Americans.