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Statement of Egypt Human Rights Caucus on the Administration’s Military Aid Policies for Egypt

September 17, 2021 (Washington, DC) – Reps. Don Beyer (D-VA), Tom Malinowski (D-NJ), Andy Levin (D-MI), Ted Lieu (D-CA), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Seth Moulton (D-MA), and Sara Jacobs (C-CA), members of Congress’ Egypt Human Rights Caucus, issued the following statement today on the Biden Administration’s decision on military aid to Egypt:

“The Administration’s decision on taxpayer-funded weapons giveaways to Egypt violates the spirit and intent of the law. While we commend the Administration for acknowledging Egypt’s terrible human rights record, for not using a national security waiver, and for withholding some of Egypt’s military aid, the decision ignored the clear intent of Congress that $300 million be held back, and sidestepped Congressionally mandated conditions on that aid.

“In the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020, Congress required the Secretary of State to certify whether Egypt is taking sustained and effective steps to strengthen the rule of law, democratic institutions, and human rights, to protect freedom of expression, and to investigate and prosecute extrajudicial killings. Absent such a certification, or use of a national security waiver, the law required the Administration to withhold $300 million of the $1.3 billion it appropriated in military aid to Egypt, so long as this did not reduce that portion of our military aid dedicated to counterterrorism, border security, or non-proliferation.

“To avoid complying with the intent of the law, the Administration appears to have redefined the entirety of the $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt as supporting counterterrorism, border security, or non-proliferation, even though the substance of that aid, including such items as sustainment contracts for aircraft, tanks, and multiple-launch rocket systems, has not changed. This enabled it to withhold an amount smaller than the Congressionally mandated $300 million, and to attach a weaker set of conditions than those required by Congress.

“Those conditions were not meant as suggestions, and if Congress had intended them to apply to only $130 million in aid, rather than $300 million, Congress would have said so. We will work to ensure that this and future administrations cannot evade its requirements.

“As the Administration rightly concluded, the Egyptian government’s human rights abuses are among the worst in the world, and our national interests do not justify ignoring them. On the contrary, as President Biden has argued, a central question facing the international community is whether the forces of democracy or authoritarianism will prevail in the 21st century. It is reasonable to expect a government that depends on the United States for its security to show some respect for U.S. concerns, whether on human rights or regional issues such as the conflict in Libya. Instead, the government of Egypt has continued to engage in widespread torture, suppression of dissent, and even persecution of American citizens and the families of critics living in the United States, while treating our military aid as an entitlement that must be provided unconditionally.

“We hope the Administration’s acknowledgment of the problem, and willingness to condition at least some aid, will spur a deeper debate about the value the American taxpayer and the Egyptian people get from gifting $1.3 billion in weaponry to Egypt’s military-run regime. As stewards of taxpayer dollars, we will continue to press for directing our limited discretionary resources to governments whose values and actions align with our national interests.”