The Senate roundly rejected a proposal Wednesday to redirect aid for Egypt into bridge-building projects in the U.S. after a potential Republican presidential candidate and tea party favorite challenged the Obama administration’s refusal to label the ouster of Egypt’s president a military coup.
Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky’s amendment to next year’s transportation bill would have halted the $1.5 billion in mainly military assistance the U.S. provides Egypt each year.
He cited the U.S. law banning most forms of support for countries that suffer a military “coup,” a determination the administration has said it won’t make about the Egyptian army’s July 3 ouster of the Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. And he invoked U.S. infrastructure shortcomings as well as Detroit’s bankruptcy and Chicago’s violence to make his case for the money to be put back into the domestic economy.
“Our nation’s bridges are crumbling,” said Paul, who has previously failed in attempts to cut U.S. support programs for Egypt, Libya and Pakistan. “I propose that we take the billion dollars that is now being illegally given to Egypt and spend it at home.”
The Senate voted 86-13 against the measure, the first to be proposed in either chamber of Congress since the army arrested Morsi, suspended the constitution and cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood.