The White House has cancelled tours, the Pentagon is furloughing workers, and yet the US government scraped up enough coin to give Egypt $250 million.
And they wanted to give a lot more.
Secretary of State John Kerry had hoped to offer considerably more aid to Egypt than the $250 million he announced during his trip to Cairo but was blocked by Congress, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said.
"This is not the aid package that the administration wanted to announce," Royce told The Hill. The administration wanted to release a "larger sum," but bowed to the wishes of Royce's committee as well as congressional appropriators, he said.
Royce wouldn't say how much Kerry had hoped to announce, but the State Department has been pressing Congress to greenlight $450 million in direct aid since last fall.
"Our approach is not the full-throttle administration approach of delivering all the aid that they wanted to deliver, but rather a measured approach of tying tranches to results as it pertains to the peace treaty with Israel, to cooperation with respect to smuggling [into Gaza] and with respect to economic reforms to guarantee civil rights and the rule of law within Egypt," he said. "That's the pressure that we're applying."
Kerry announced the new aid package last Sunday during a stop in Cairo as part of his first trip overseas. The money includes $190 million in budgetary support that's part of the $1 billion in debt relief President Obama pledged in 2011, along with $60 million for an enterprise fund.
The aid, Kerry said, was a "good-faith effort to spur reform and help the Egyptian people at this difficult time."
The $190 million comes from the $450 million cash transfer the administration proposed last year to give to Egypt to shore up an economy hammered by the Arab Spring. That money would be culled from funds left over from past Egypt appropriations going back to 2006 (the country gets $1.3 billion in military aid and another $250 million in economic aid every year under the terms of the 1978 Camp David accords leading to peace with Israel).
The Egyptian economy has not been "hammered by the Arab Spring." It has been destroyed by the actions of the Muslim Brotherhood and the looting of the economy by the military. And why are we giving cash to a country whose government has sworn to destroy Israel and the west? I disagree that the alternative would be worse - a military coup. Getting rid of the fanatics who currently run Egypt would be a blessing and if it means we deny them aid until they change their goals, then so be it.