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Public Statements

Political and Legal Reform in Egypt

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

POLITICAL AND LEGAL REFORM IN EGYPT

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, the supplemental appropriations bill passed by the Senate last week includes $3 million for the Government of Egypt and up to $2 billion in future loan guarantees. While Egypt remains an important ally of the United States and a partner in our on-going war against terrorism, I continue to be extremely concerned about that country's lack of political, legal, and democratic reforms.

We provide substantial assistance to Egypt on an annual basis. We did so in this supplemental. While loan guarantees and other forms of economic aid may be beneficial to Egypt, we are doing far too little to promote political reforms that would benefit the Egyptian people. It is no secret that I have long felt that the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development need to do a better job in implementing democracy programs in Egypt that are both substantive and effective. This will require State and USAID to be aggressive in engaging the Egyptians on this issue on an ongoing and consistent basis. To date, this has yet to happen.

Waiting for the Egyptians to engage us on democracy programs is simply not an option.

Some may point to the recent release from jail of sociologist Dr. Saad Eddin Ibrahim, an Egyptian-American who was subjected to a political show trial, as evidence of political and legal reform in Egypt. It is not. Dr. Ibrahim should never have been arrested, should never have been tried, and should never have been jailed. Dr. Ibrahim's only 'crime' was to criticize the Egyptian government and to call for greater freedoms.

I continue to hope that the Secretary of State Colin Powell will clearly, publicly, and forcefully register the concerns of the United States regarding Egypt's commitment to human rights and democracy. It is not unreasonable for the United States to expect its allies to live up to basic standards of human rights and political freedom.

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