WASHINGTON (JTA) — The chairwoman of the congressional subcommittee administering foreign aid blocked the Obama administration’s plans to infuse Egypt with $450 million in emergency aid.
“This proposal comes to Congress at a point when the U.S.-Egypt relationship has never been under more scrutiny, and rightly so,” Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), the chairwoman of the foreign operations subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee, said in a statement last Friday, just after the U.S. Agency for International Development notified Congress of its plans to make the transfer. “I am not convinced of the urgent need for this assistance and I cannot support it at this time."
Earlier in the week, the Obama administration reaffirmed its commitment to current levels of funding for Egypt’s military while announcing new civil assistance programs.
"The U.S. Government’s Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program, which has amounted to $1.3 billion annually, underpins strong U.S.-Egyptian security relations and works to develop the Egyptian military as a professional and disciplined defense force," said a Sept. 24 fact sheet issued by the State Department. "FMF helps Egyptian forces contribute to regional security, promote adherence to international norms of human rights, support military modernization, and improve their interoperability with the U.S. military."
The recommitment to defense funding comes at the end of a sheet outlining additional initiatives in the hundreds of millions of dollars that would spur the growth of small and medium businesses, democracy development and protection of human rights, and economic recovery.
Congressional Republicans have urged the Obama administration to consider cutting assistance to Egypt in the wake of spurts of anti-American sentiment, which is seen as stoked in part by the country’s new Muslim Brotherhood-led government.
The Obama administration has suggested that preserving the peace treaty with Israel is a condition for continuing assistance to Egypt.