US Senator John McCain 370 (R).
(photo credit: Kevin Lamarque / Reuters)
WASHINGTON – Sen. John McCain has received measured responses from colleagues
after calling on them to reconsider America’s aid package to
McCain (R-Arizona) can no longer support the aid – averaging $1.4
billion annually – he said Monday, after the Egyptian military executed a coup
against the country’s democratically elected government.
“This is an
incredibly difficult decision, but we have to learn the lessons of history and
remain true to our values,” McCain said.
In a long statement, the senator
explained that his suggestion is not intended to punish Egypt, and that he
believes the developments of last week’s military overthrow of President Mohamed
Morsi might ultimately benefit the Egyptian people.
“Current US law is
very clear about the implications for our foreign assistance in the aftermath of
a military coup against an elected government, and the law offers no ability to
waive its provisions,” he said. “I do not want to suspend our critical
assistance to Egypt, but I believe that is the right thing to do at this
McCain’s colleagues in the Senate have been slow to follow his
lead, but Sen. Carl Levin (D-Michigan), the chairman of the Senate’s Armed
Services Committee, came out in support of the move late Monday
“We ought to suspend aid until the new government shows that it
is willing to – and in fact does – schedule elections and put in place a process
to come up with a new constitution,” Levin said, adding that Congress could act
on its own without White House consent to cut off aid.
“By saying that
the aid would continue, the administration is therefore – I guess necessarily –
saying that they don’t consider this a coup.”
Sen. Patrick Leahy
(D-Vermont) also supports a suspension of the annual aid. Leahy, who oversees
the Senate subcommittee on foreign aid, warned that the “law is clear” on
funding in situations of military coups within benefactor countries, issuing a
statement as the coup was still taking place.
“Part of the aid that we
supply is in support of the treaties,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tennessee), ranking
member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said on Fox News Sunday. “It seems to
me that what we should be looking at is how the military and how the country
itself handles this transition. We need to encourage that. I think trying to
jump to what we’re going to do relative to support at this moment is not the
place that we need to be.”
On NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday, Sen. Robert
Menendez (D-New Jersey), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said the
US should be “using our assistance as leverage” to foster a mature, stable
democracy in Egypt.
“We’ll have to make sure that the military gets a
very clear message that we want to see a transition to civilian government as
quickly as possible,” Menendez added.