By Julian Pecquet - 07/31/13 03:36 PM EDT
An effort by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to freeze $1.5 billion in annual aid to Egypt went down to defeat on Wednesday.
Only 12 Republicans supported Paul's amendment to the transportation spending bill that would have allocated the foreign aid to Egypt for bridge repairs in the United States. The amendment was defeated in a 86-13 vote.
Paul argued that U.S. law requires the aid to be terminated in the case of a military coup, which he said happened when elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was deposed on July 3.
Senators opposed to his amendment, Paul argued, were “voting against the rule of law.”
“It's not convenient now to obey the law that they passed,” he said.
Leaders on the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations argued at length against abruptly terminating aid to Egypt. They raised concerns, however, with the administration's decision to avoid saying whether Morsi's ouster was a coup; such a determination would have triggered an automatic aid freeze until the election of another president in Egypt.
Senate Foreign Relations chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said the vote on aid was “far too important a decision to be an afterthought to an appropriations bill.”
“We need a more nuanced approach, one that speaks to both our values and our interests,” Menendez said, “and which provides the president with the flexibility needed to conduct delicate and discriminating policy in a challenging and chaotic environment.”
The top Republican on the committee, Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.), vowed to take up the legal issues of continued aid to Egypt when Congress returns in September.
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