Posted by Rafiq A. Tschannen
Secretary of State John F. Kerry’s release of $250 million in economic aid to Egypt added fuel to a fiery debate in Washington over whether the U.S. should be helping to fund a government run by the Muslim Brotherhood.
Although several lawmakers have called for a halt of U.S. assistance to Egypt, analysts generally agree that Congress lacks the momentum to redirect the $1.3 billion in military aid that Washington sends to Cairo each year.
With lawmakers caught up in “dysfunction and gridlock,” the Obama administration will “probably continue to have broad leeway to continue the current military and economic assistance,” said Brian Katulis, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.
Such leeway appeared to rear its head Sunday when Mr. Kerry announced that the administration would cut a $250 million check for what he described as “a good-faith effort to spur reform and help the Egyptian people at this difficult time.”
The issue of U.S. assistance to Egypt has driven a wedge for months between the White House and Congress, where several lawmakers have cited concerns such as the Brotherhood’s handling of security in the post-Mubarak era, its treatment of women and opposition groups, and the Islamist party’s relationship with Israel.
One of the most vocal opponents of the aid has been Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Florida Republican, who noted during a House hearing last week that Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s government has “rolled out the red carpet” to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
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