Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today hailed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s passage of legislation to condition aid to Egypt unless that country complies with various conditions to uphold its existing security agreements and protect human rights.
“Our foreign policy programs have to advance America’s values as well as our interests, and this action brings us one step closer to ensuring that Egypt does not get a free pass,” said Rubio. “Encouraging a stable Egypt at peace with its neighbors remains in our national interest, but we cannot look away when we see cases of persecution of religious minorities and women or democratic backsliding. This bill will help ensure that the assistance we provide to Egypt encourages democratic reforms and that Egypt takes action to address these issues of concern.”
In March, Rubio introduced legislation to block two key forms of U.S. assistance to Egypt unless economic reforms and human rights safeguards are adopted, while also initiating a more thorough, longer term reevaluation of U.S. military and economic assistance to Egypt.
Several measures originally proposed by Rubio were included in the bill that was approved in committee today, including one that would block the disbursement of additional assistance until Egypt begins to enact economic reforms and the Obama administration certifies that Egypt is protecting basic freedoms and human rights, including those of religious minorities and women, who have come under significant pressure during Egypt’s recent political turmoil.
ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND ON TODAY’S COMMITTEE- APPROVED LEGISLATION
U.S. assistance to Egypt plays an important role in supporting peace in the region and furthering U.S. strategic objectives. However, since the revolution in February 2011 that led to the fall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and even after the July 2013 military takeover, U.S. assistance has not been modified or adapted to the new strategic environment.
Today’s committee-approved legislation will require the administration to submit a strategy to reform U.S. military assistance to Egypt, as well as a comprehensive foreign assistance strategy, with the goal of ensuring that all U.S. assistance to Egypt is being used effectively and is advancing U.S. interests and values.
Specifically, it will condition U.S. military assistance to Egypt to ensure that Egypt is:
- Implementing the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty;
- Taking necessary and appropriate measures to counter terrorism as well as smuggling into the Gaza strip;
- Allowing the U.S. armed forces to transit the territory of Egypt;
- Supporting a transition to civilian government by demonstrating a commitment to, and making progress toward, free, fair and credible elections;
- Respecting and protecting the political and economic freedoms of all residents of Egypt, including taking measures to address violence against women and religious minorities;
- Respecting freedom of expression and due process of law, including respecting the rights of women and religious minorities;
- Abiding by its nuclear non-proliferation commitments as a signatory of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).
U.S. economic assistance to Egypt will also be conditioned on Egypt:
- Permitting nongovernmental organizations and civil society groups to operate freely;
- Demonstrating a commitment to implementing economic reforms.
The bill also ensures that as long as Egypt is unable to meet the conditions above, no less than $75 million of previously appropriated U.S. economic support funds will be allocated to democracy and governance programs in Egypt.