By Meghashyam Mali - 08/20/13 10:40 AM EDT
The White House on Tuesday denied reports that it had quietly suspended some U.S. military aid to Egypt amid mounting violence as “incorrect.”
“The report that we have suspended assistance to Egypt is incorrect,” National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement.
The statement followed a story in the Daily Beast late Monday which reported that the U.S. government had privately decided to move ahead and halt some military assistance for Cairo as punishment for a bloody crackdown on protesters.
While the administration has refused to publicly label the military takeover last month as a “coup,” which would trigger a complete halt in all aid, a spokesman for Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) told the Daily Beast that some direct military aid, weaponry, as well as economic assistance was being temporarily delayed.
The spokesman for Leahy, head of the Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, told CNN that the U.S. is “reprogramming” Egypt funds, while continuing to review the situation. The aide though cautioned that there has been no final decision on permanently cutting off aid to Egypt.
Once a decision has been made about whether to cut off further aid, the administration will reach out to Congress on how to press forward, the official added.
The report followed a week of mounting violence in Egypt after military rulers cracked down on Islamist supporters of deposed democratically-elected President Mohamed Morsi. Reports said hundreds, on both sides, have been killed in clashes.
The White House said on Monday that it was evaluating aid to Egypt, even as pressure mounted on Capitol Hill for the U.S. to suspend all assistance.
Top GOP lawmakers including Sens. John McCain (Ariz.), Rand Paul (Ky.) and Bob Corker (Tenn.) have called for the administration to immediately halt all aid, urging the White House to take a tough line with Cairo.
The administration though has been cautious about designating Egypt a coup or publicly limiting aid, for fear of losing leverage. Reports also suggested that Egypt’s Arab allies would step up to cover any shortfall from American aid.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest pressed Egypt’s leaders on Monday to “transition back to a democratically elected government.”
Justin Sink contributed.
This story was updated at 8:51 a.m. to include the White House response.