The Cable: Senator Proposes to Cut Off Aid to Egypt Over Crackdown on Pro-democracy NGOs
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) plans to again offer an amendment later today to cut off all U.S. aid to Egypt due to the Egyptian government’s ongoing prosecution of U.S. NGO workers around the world.
The Egyptian government has asked Interpol to issue international arrest warrants for American and other foreign NGO workers for organizations working to develop civil society in Egypt as it struggles with its transition to democracy. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton waived congressional restrictions on U.S. aid to Egypt last month, following the release of more than a dozen NGO workers who were barred from leaving Cairo, but the Egyptian government is now seeking the arrests of those NGO workers who were not in Egypt at the time criminal charges were brought.
Interpol is considering the request and can reject warrant requests that are politically motivated, but meanwhile Paul wants to prevent the United States from sending more than $1.5 billion in annual aid to the Egyptian government. He told The Cable Tuesday he will offer an amendment along those lines to the bill moving in the Senate on fixing the financial problems at the U.S. Postal Service.
“I find it incredibly insulting that we’re sending them $2 billion in aid and their putting out international warrants,” Paul said. “Interpol is not supposed to be involved in political persecution so this is troubling to me.”
In February, Paul attempted a similar gambit and filibustered a transportation-related bill as a means of pressuring the Senate to hold a vote on his previous amendment to cut off U.S. aid to Egypt. Democrats blocked Paul’s amendment from getting a floor vote.
Asked why he thought this time might be different, Paul said, “You have to just be an optimist around here. I don’t know that it will go better (this time) but I’m going to try.”
Sen. John McCain, the chairman of the International Republican Institute, one of the NGOs with members facing charges, told The Cable today the new Paul amendment was unwise and would not succeed.
“It won’t pass,” he said. “A lot of us are very unhappy about the events in Egypt and very unhappy about the treatment of NGOs. But this is not the time to cut off aid to Egypt as they are going through this electoral process. … Most members of the Senate understand that.”