Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) plans to propose an amendment to a transportation and housing spending bill that would use $1.5 billion in foreign aid originally allocated to Egypt for domestic infrastructure projects. Since there is a congressional hearing scheduled this week concerning the situation in Egypt, Paul will get an opportunity to voice his proposal, and according to sources, a floor vote seems likely. If this amendment does not get a floor vote, he has prepared a standalone bill proposing the elimination of foreign aid to Egypt.
The Senate ought to take this initiative seriously because giving aid to Egypt in light of its military coup violates a U.S. law that prohibits aid to nations that have underwent a military coup. Moreover, it is logically sound and would benefit constituents across the country.
Paul's proposal faces significant opposition from staunch pro-foreign aid Republicans like Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. There will also be resistance from the left side of the aisle; Paul's proposal to cut aid to Egypt, Libya, and Pakistan last year only received support from 10 senators. However, John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.), reputed congressional foreign policy pundits, support this initiative. They argue that Egypt underwent a military coup, therefore losing eligibility for receiving aid under the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, which clearly states, "None of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available pursuant to this Act shall be obligated or expended to finance directly any assistance to the government of any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup or decree." Meanwhile, the Obama administration has refused to officially address this issue. According to sources, it has been investigating the situation and has delayed selling fighter jets to the Egyptian government. Not a coincidence.
Regardless of official support, Paul's proposal is firmly grounded. Although Morsi's ousting was spearheaded by the Egyptian public, it was forcefully carried out by the Egyptian military before his term expired, and is accurately described as a military coup. Any aid given to Egypt at this point is directly in violation of U.S. law.
Simply put, the U.S. government has little incentive to continue aid. Millions of U.S. tourists are prohibited from enjoying Egypt's rich historical and cultural legacy because of the violence. Secondly, it will be a long time before Egypt regains enough stability to resume its status as a relevant ally in the Middle East (this situation might never happen). Thirdly, and most importantly, this money can be put to good use back home, repairing countless bridges and highways; these crumbling infrastructures are dangerous and cause millions of American drivers additional financial woes when they have to fix their tires, bumpers, etc., as a result of poor roadways.
The U.S. has a long history of unsuccessful and unappreciated involvement in the region and ought to invest more resources domestically, especially in light of largely unaddressed economic hardships at home and the U.S.'s recent decision to help anti-Bashar al-Assad Syrian rebels. Considering all the horror stories surrounding U.S. interventionism over the past century and current quagmires abroad, Paul's initiative is truly a breath of fresh air.