WASHINGTON (TheBlaze/AP) — The Obama administration’s plan to transfer $450 million in cash to Egypt hit a roadblock Friday as a top House committee chairwoman blocked the move, saying it warrants further review.
Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, said the State Department had notified Congress of plans to move the money to the new government of President Mohammed Morsi as Cairo struggles economically. The money is part of the nearly $1 billion in debt relief that President Barack Obama had promised the Muslim Brotherhood-controlled Egypt earlier this year.
“This proposal comes to Congress at a point when the U.S.-Egypt relationship has never been under more scrutiny, and rightly so,” the chairwoman of the Appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations said in a statement. “I am not convinced of the urgent need for this assistance and I cannot support it at this time. … I have placed a hold on these funds.”
The relationship between the United States and Egypt has been rocky since the overthrow of U.S. ally President Hosni Mubarak last year. The Egyptian government angered Washington when it cracked down on numerous democracy advocates and groups, including three U.S.-funded nongovernmental organizations, earlier this year.
It also doesn’t help matters that Morsi has promised to push the U.S. to release convicted radical Islamist terrorist Omar Abdel Rahman, also known as the “Blind Sheikh.” In fact, when he was elected, Morsi called the Blind Sheikh’s release a matter of great importance to him.
In an article with the headline “Morsi’s Election Can’t Erase Radical Record,” the Algemeiner lays out just a portion of the Egyptian leader’s radical roots:
In a 2005 article touting Muslim Brotherhood parliamentary candidates, Morsi invoked the Brotherhood’s motto in making the case that “Islam is the solution”:
“God is our goal. The Messenger is our example. The Quran is our constitution; Jihad is our way and death for the sake of God the highest aspiration.”
He repeated that theme during a campaign appearance last May, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) showed, leading the crowd in chanting “The Quran is our constitution. The Prophet Muhammad is our leader. Jihad is our path. And death for the sake of Allah is our most lofty aspiration.”
That could help explain his affection for the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, which was created to be a terrorist branch of the Brotherhood, and which has a series of anti-Semitic statements in its charter.
More recently, demonstrators breached the U.S. Embassy in Cairo to protest an anti-Islam video, and some in Congress have called for cutting off aid. The United States provides Egypt with $1.55 billion annually – $250 million in economic aid and $1.3 billion in military aid.
The cash transfer would have come from money that had already been appropriated.
A senior State Department official said the United States remains committed to a democratic transition in Egypt and still sees support for economic growth as a vital way to protect peace and security. The official said the administration would work with Congress in the next days and weeks to make the case that the budget is in U.S. interests.
The official was not authorized to speak publicly about the ongoing negotiations and discussed the situation on condition of anonymity.
Last December, Congress made foreign assistance to Egypt, including the military financing, contingent on a determination that the government “is supporting the transition to civilian government including holding free and fair elections; implementing policies to protect freedom of expression, association and religion and due process of law.”