Republican Tries to Block U.S. Aid From Going to Islamist Egypt

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US embasy Egypt photo

US embassy attacked in Egypt

When Egypt overthrew former President Hosni Mubarak and started a path to democracy, the Obama administration pledged to help the process by giving Egypt $1 billion in aid, but a Congressional Republican from Texas is now trying to stop the administration from sending Egypt $450 million in emergency cash.

Representative Kay Granger of Texas, chairwoman of the House appropriations subcommittee overseeing foreign aid, said she was going to try to block the distribution of the money. In a statement her office sent out as the administration was announcing the aid package to Egypt, Granger said the American relationship with Egypt “has never been under more scrutiny” than it has been since the election of President Mohamed Morsi, a former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.

“I am not convinced of the urgent need for this assistance and I cannot support it at this time,” Granger’s statement said.

One of the world’s largest organizations of Muslims, the Muslim Brotherhood has been viewed with suspicion by Republicans who believe the group is radical and dangerous. President Morsi rose to the leadership of Egypt out of the Brotherhood, meaning his entire presidency is viewed with suspicion by many.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, speaking at a meeting of the Group of 8 nations in New York, said on Friday that after supporting the efforts in the Middle East for citizens to move their governments to democracy, the United States and the rest of the world had a commitment to help governments in places like Egypt, Libya and Tunisia become more stable.

“The recent riots and protests throughout the region have brought the challenge of transition into sharp relief,” Clinton said, without mentioning the assistance to Egypt specifically. “Extremists are clearly determined to hijack these wars and revolutions to further their agendas and ideology, so our partnership must empower those who would see their nations emerge as true democracies.”

The discussions in Washington moved from $1 billion in aid to a quicker package of $450 million instead, including $190 million immediately, because the country’s economic crisis has become acute, with an estimated budget shortfall of $12 billion.