WASHINGTON – A Republican lawmaker introduced a bill Thursday to halt the $1.5 billion in annual U.S. aid to Egypt, the first such legislation since last week's military overthrow of the government.
Several senators have urged the suspension of military and other funds for Egypt because of a U.S. law prohibiting foreign assistance after coups.
But the Obama administration insists the money as vital to U.S. national security interests -- a position it reiterated Thursday after Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., demanded an end to more than three decades of American support for Egypt.
"The overthrow of the Egyptian government was a coup d'etat, and the law is clear that when a coup takes place, foreign aid must stop," Paul said in a statement.
He criticized President Obama for refusing to label the government takeover a "coup" and for continuing to send Egypt assistance. The president, Paul said, "is forthrightly saying, `I am ignoring the rule of law."'
The bill is unlikely to pass.
Despite criticism of the military from some American lawmakers, many believe Mohammed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood-led government was taking Egypt down an increasingly undemocratic path.
The administration is hopeful a civilian government will be restored in the coming months.
"While we are concerned about events that lead to the removal of President Morsi from office, the fact is that millions of Egyptians do not see what happened as a coup," White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters Thursday. He said Egyptians "amply demonstrated that there should be a change in government."