Rand Paul unveils bill to block Egypt aid

Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulMillion-dollar super-PAC donation coming for Libertarian ticket Adelson aides in talks to make pro-Trump super PAC GOP senators move to keep women out of military draft 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 Robert MenendezRobert MenendezKaine, Murphy push extension of Iran sanctions Dems pressure Obama on vow to resettle 10,000 Syrian refugees Lobbying World 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 CorkerBob CorkerKaine, Murphy push extension of Iran sanctions The Hill's 12:30 Report Rankings: Trump’s top 10 VP picks 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 LevinCarl, Sander Levin rebuke Sanders for tax comments on Panama trade deal Supreme Court: Eye on the prize Congress got it wrong on unjustified corporate tax loopholes MORE (D-Mich.) and John McCainJohn McCainGOP senators split over Cruz's aid on campaign trail Why a power grid attack is a nightmare scenario Senate fight brews over Afghan visas 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.