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Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2014

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. PAUL. A once great city, Detroit, lies in ruins with 50,000 feral dogs roaming the city, and abandoned houses litter the landscape. It is a bleak and forlorn future that awaits Detroit. Creditors clamor for nearly $20 billion in debt. City employees wonder if they will be paid. There is not enough money to even replace the street lights in Detroit. God forbid that a major fire should break out.

At some level I think the President does care about Detroit, but today all I can see is the billions of dollars--the billions of American tax dollars--that he chooses to send overseas. I see the shiny new technology, America's best, going to arm people who are indifferent to us, and, at worst, hate us. The President sends billions of dollars to Egypt in the form of advanced fighter planes and tanks. Meanwhile, Detroit crumbles.

Chicago is a war zone. More people died in Chicago this year than in Afghanistan. Yet the President insists on building a $34 million fort in Afghanistan. Hillary Clinton insists on spending $80 million on a consulate in Afghanistan that will never be used. As Detroit decays, Chicago is a maelstrom of violence, yet no one questions sending billions of the taxpayers' dollars to Egypt, to despots, to dictators in foreign countries.

Our Nation's bridges are crumbling and few politicians from either party will question the billions of dollars that are being sent overseas while our Nation's infrastructure is crumbling. The law is very clear. Everyone here in Congress can read. They recognize that the law says when there is a military coup, the aid must end.

Today we will vote on whether they will obey the law or whether they will openly flout the law and disobey. When a military coup overturns a democratically elected government, all military aid must end; that is the law. There is no Presidential waiver. The law states unequivocally that the aid must end.

When the military coup occurred in Egypt, how did the President respond? How did Congress respond? The President and his cohorts in Congress responded by shoveling good money after bad into the failed state of Egypt. The President is intent on building nations abroad and not taking care of our Nation here at home. I propose that we take the billion dollars that is now being illegally given to Egypt and spend it at home.

We have bridges crumbling at home. Can't we fix some of our problems at home? We have had a bridge collapse this year in Washington State. We had one collapse in Minnesota a few years ago. We have a bridge in northern Kentucky that is becoming increasingly unsafe. Yet there is not enough money to repair our bridges because our politicians are sending the money overseas. It is unwise, and right now it is illegal.

Countries such as Egypt are getting billions of dollars in aid. Meanwhile, they recently let a mob advance and climb atop our Embassy and then burn our flag. I say not one penny more to these countries that allow mobs to burn our flag.

In between cashing our checks, Egypt finds time to convict 16 Americans on trumped-up political charges. Fortunately, the Americans were able to escape. If they hadn't left the country, we would have 16 Americans in prison in Egypt. Luckily these Americans were able to get out of the country.

How do these establishment politicians respond? How will the other side respond today when they get up and plead we should break the law?

What will they say about Detroit? What will they say about Chicago? What will they say about the bridges in northern Kentucky that will not be built because we are sending the money to countries that are burning our flag?

I think it is unwise to send arms--particularly advanced arms--into the chaos of Egypt. I fear one day someone may arise in Egypt who says: Let's attack Israel with these planes. Let's attack Israel with these tanks. I fear these weapons we are giving to Egypt may someday be used against America and our allies.

Even the Egyptians don't want our aid. There was a Gallup poll last year which showed that 70 percent of Egyptians don't even want the money we are sending them. To understand why we have to understand that American aid doesn't go to the Egyptian people; it goes to the despots and the dictators who run the place. We have to realize that when protesters gather in Tahrir Square in Cairo by the hundreds of thousands--and even millions--why they are unhappy with America. They are unhappy with America because they are being sprayed with tear gas bought with American tax dollars, manufactured in Pennsylvania, and given to the Mubarak family or given to the military. Why are they unhappy? Foreign aid doesn't go to foreign people; it goes to foreign despots and foreign dictators. Foreign aid is more likely to buy a lavish chateau in Paris than it is to buy bread in Egypt.

We send money to Egypt and it buys private jets for the Mubarak family to fly to Europe. The Mubarak family is said to have stolen billions of dollars of American aid. Over the past 30 years, Americans have been forced to finance the Mubarak family living large. So when we see pictures of depression in Detroit, when we see abandoned housing in Detroit, when we see boarded up housing, when we see 50,000 feral dogs running through the streets of Detroit, when we see a once great country, a once great nation, a once great city lying in decay, we think of our politicians who chose to send that money to Egypt and not keep it here at home.

As the money is stolen and squandered around the world and as Detroit decays, as Chicago is overrun with violence, as Americans struggle to put
food on the table, Mubarak and his family dine on caviar and champagne. As Mubarak flew to Europe for weekends on his jet and lived the life of a king, his people rotted in jail indefinitely, without charge, without trial. They have been living under martial law for 30 years. We wonder why they are unhappy with us. We have been financing the guy who has been giving them martial law and indefinite detention without trial for 30 years. To add insult to injury, when they protest against their government, they are doused with tear gas made in our country.

Foreign aid doesn't go to foreign people; it goes to foreign despots and dictators.

The President claims he feels our pain. The President says he can feel the pain and he wants to help the middle class. But it seems as though he wants and intends to help foreign people, foreign countries more than he wants to help America. The President promised us hope and change, but the more he claims that things change, I think the more they stay the same.

I wanted to believe the President would be different. I wanted to believe he would bring change. I wanted to believe he would stand up to the arms race, to the military industrial complex; that he would stop the flow of arms to despots and dictators across the planet. But hope and change just turned out to be a slogan. In Detroit and in Chicago and in the once great cities of America, no change came. Hope and change was just a slogan. The poverty, the murders, the abysmal schools, they continue.

Where are you, Mr. President? In our hour of need in our country, why are you sending our money to people who hate us? Why are you sending arms to countries that don't like us or our allies? Why would we do that?

The President maintains he will end the war in Afghanistan, and I support him. But he insists on fighting new wars, secretly, without congressional approval, in Libya and Syria. While Detroit decays and descends into bankruptcy, the President, as did so many Republicans before him, continues to send American tax dollars overseas to countries that persecute and kill Christians. Hope and change--I guess it was just a slogan.

The law clearly states that when there is a military coup overturning elected government, the military aid must end. Even the President doesn't dispute the law. He doesn't even dispute it is a coup. He just says, I am not going to say it is not a coup or it is a coup; you can't make me. It is ridiculous to any intelligent person or country--and I wonder if anyone on the other side will stand and say it is not a coup. How do we say, when the military takes over a country and boots out a government, that it is not a coup? Only a fool or a demagog would attempt to argue that the military junta in Egypt is not a coup; that the military takeover that actually installed the lead general as Deputy Primary Minister is somehow not a coup.

Mr. INHOFE. Mr. President, will the Senator yield for a unanimous consent request?

Mr. PAUL. Not yet.

In a remarkable bit of sophistry, the President admits the law does not mandate an end to military aid when a coup takes place--he says it does, but he says it can't make him decide, so he is not going to decide whether there was a coup. What it is, is brazen and open flouting of the law.

The President's argument reminds me of a third grader at recess. A third grader says he will not call it a coup and you can't make him. That is absurd. We passed a law. It is the law of the land. It says if a coup happens, if the military takes over or participates in a substantial way in removing an elected government, the military aid ends. We are either a nation of laws or we are not.

When the President refuses to acknowledge it is a coup or that it is not yet an acknowledged coup, he says the aid is going on indefinitely and he will go on indefinitely flouting the law.

Americans should be outraged and insulted by such blatant shirking of the law. Either we are a nation of laws or we are not. Will we obey the law?

We have the presumption to tell the world how to behave, to criticize Egypt for not obeying the rule of law--all legitimate concerns. Yet the President blithely ignores our own law. If we choose to ignore our own laws, can we, with a straight face, preach to the rest of the world about the rule of law? I think by openly flouting our own laws we take away from our ability to lead the world, we take away from our moral authority to show the right way. America has always been the leader by example. But how do we lead by example when we are not willing to obey our own laws?

There is a question: Are we a monarchy or a republic? Are we to be ruled by caprice? If we pick and choose which laws to obey, what message does that send?

I say to all Americans--Democrats, Independents, and Republicans--enough is enough. We aren't going to take it anymore. We should call our representatives and tell them enough already. Tell them to take care of our country. Tell them not one penny more to countries that are burning our flag.

I suggest today we do something historic and listen to the American people. The American people don't want good money after bad shoveled and sent overseas; they want to fix some of the problems we have at home. They want to do some Nation building here at home.

My amendment will give our representatives a chance to vote. We are going to say: Yes, we will obey the law. We are not sending any more weapons to Egypt and we are going to take the money and we are going to build some bridges in our country. We are going to repair some roads. We are going to work on some infrastructure here at home.

Everybody seems to say they are for it. In fact, the President has now come out and said he wants some grand bargain to take some new money and actually work on infrastructure. Mr. President, it is right here. I am offering it today.

I have another amendment that would say all foreign profit can come home at 5 percent. We can take that revenue and build new bridges. They will not even let me vote on that one. So the President's grand bargain to increase infrastructure spending--I have it. It is on the floor.

Mr. President, call the leadership of the Senate. Tell them it is on the floor and you support this; that you want infrastructure spending. I have a bill that would do precisely that. This amendment will do a little bit in that direction. Take the $1 billion we spend in Egypt and spend it in America.

When we see the pictures on the news of what is going on in Detroit--if you live in Detroit and you are suffering through the bankruptcy of your city; if you see around you the chaos and poverty of Detroit, you call the President and say: Mr. President, why are you sending that money to Egypt? Why are you sending money overseas when our Nation is crumbling, our cities are crumbling, our infrastructure is crumbling, our bridges are crumbling? The President says: I am going to send that to Egypt. I am going to send that overseas.

This amendment will give everyone a chance to put their money where their mouth is, to say: Do you care about America? Do you care about repairing American infrastructure or do you care more about sending money to a dictatorship in Egypt? I think the choice is clear. I think, if we ask the American people, three-fourths or more of them--I think maybe nearly 100 percent of the American people--are with me. Let's spend that money at home. Let's not send that money overseas to people who hate us, to people who burn our flag. Keep it at home.

There is a finite amount of money. We can't do everything. We can't fix everything if we have to fix everybody else's problems first. Let's address some of the needs we have at home.

I encourage a ``yes'' vote, to vote to keep the money at home and not to send it overseas.

I reserve the remainder of my time.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. PAUL. This is exactly, precisely the time it should come up because on the infrastructure bill that we are looking at, this gives Americans the chance to show great contrast. Do you want to do nation building overseas or do you want to do nation building at home? Do you want to spend billions of dollars in Egypt or would you rather build some roads at home?

I think it provides a perfect contrast. In fact, there couldn't be a better place to have a discussion on this issue.

We always hear a lot of empty thoughts and empty promises: Oh, we will do this in committee. We will do this.

They don't want this debate. I have been fighting tooth and nail against Members of my own party to get to this debate, to bring it to the floor, to bring it to the American people.

Let's be very clear about what the amendment does. It halts military aid until they have an election. It is just obeying the law.

Let's be very clear. Maybe we should do a summary of what their arguments are. This is a summary of their arguments: They love sending American money overseas so much that they don't mind breaking the law. I didn't hear one of them explain how they are going to adhere to the law. The law says military aid ends when there is a coup. The President says you can't make him say there is a coup. There probably is a coup, but he is never going to say it, and he is never going to adjudicate it. Who is going to adjudicate whether there is a coup?

This is about temporarily halting aid. Some people rise and say: Oh, we will be closed out, and they will buy their weapons someplace else. They don't have any money. We give them the money to buy our weapons.

Some have said they want to promote democracy. Well, there is an exemption. You can spend as much money on democracy promotion.

Mr. McCAIN. Will the Senator yield for a question?

Mr. PAUL. Not now.

The thing is, we have to understand what this is about. We have to understand this is about a temporary halting of buying weapons. People say: Well, if we don't give them planes, we don't pay them to buy our planes, they will think we don't like them. They will go to war with Israel and everything will be so much worse.

They have hundreds of F-16s. They have thousands of tanks. I am precisely worried about them using them against Israel when there is chaos and blood running in the streets, when there are millions of people protesting.

Do you think it is a good time to send more weapons? Do you think it is a good time to send more weapons when millions of people are in the streets?

What happens if these weapons are used against Israel? The canard of bringing the letter--it always happens. Someone brings in a letter. I have spoken to many people who love, respect, and have a great deal of admiration for Israel. I admire our relationship and alliance and am very proud of the fact that we stand together on so many issues. To bring it up and say the people who are against this don't care about Israel is just a canard.

I think this precisely--continuing to arm an unstable government in Egypt--could well be to Israel's harm. This is precisely why I bring this amendment forward.

Also, it needs to be clear for the record that everyone who has come forward together to send more of your money overseas, to send good money after bad, every one of them was for sending it to the Muslim Brotherhood. We hear them talking about Islamic jihadists and how they are worried about them. No, they are not. They were for funding the Islamic jihadists. They were for funding the Muslim Brotherhood just months ago.

I have had this vote before. I voted to cut off aid to the Muslim Brotherhood also. I have produced an amendment. They all voted against it then because we were going to do this on a more rational, reasonable pace someday, somewhere, in some fictitious committee.

No, we are not. They want the money to continue. It doesn't go to the Egyptian people. It doesn't buy good will. It buys ill will. Do you know what the money is spent on? Tanks. Tanks roll over people in protest.

I have no love lost for the Muslim Brotherhood, but they have disappeared them. We are going to be giving money to the military that is disappearing people. No one has heard from President Morsi. Most people think he was actually elected in a fair election. I don't agree with radical Islam. I don't think he would be a good President for any country. I wouldn't give him any money. But we are going to give money to people who make people disappear?

Does anybody remember the Soviet Union? These same people stand and say how bad it is the Soviet Union makes someone disappear. I am absolutely with them. I support that. It is terrible. That is what the military in Egypt is doing--making people disappear. Most of the members of the government haven't been seen in days, maybe weeks. We have no idea where they are.

Once again, let me be clear. I have no sympathy for them. I don't want to give them money either. But all these people who want to fund the military, they all want to fund the Muslim Brotherhood. The only thing consistent about their argument is sending your money to other people.

There is a finite amount of money. Detroit lays in ruins, Chicago is full of violence, and there are bridges everywhere. Don't let them paint this that I have some special thing in Kentucky. There are no earmarks. There is no special money going to Kentucky. This is going into the Transportation bill for the whole country.

There is actually nothing in here special for Chicago or Detroit, but I point it out that we have problems at home. Maybe we should do some nation building here at home.

The other side will falsely say: Oh, you want isolationism. You want to disengage from the world. Hogwash. I want to be involved. I am for being involved with Egypt. I am for trade. I am for international and global interaction and diplomacy and all those things. But do you think you are making the world a better place by sending a few more F-16s and tanks and tear gas to Egypt? Do you think that is somehow making the world a safer place? No.

If I thought the foreign aid was going to do something good, I might be for it. Mubarak and his family fly on private jets, dine on caviar and champagne. Your money is more likely to buy a chateau in Paris for the Mubarak family than it is to buy bread for the people of Egypt.

They say: Oh, well, the Egyptian people will not like us anymore if we don't give them money. Seventy percent of the Egyptian people have said they do not want our money. It doesn't go to them. The people, by the millions, are rioting in Cairo. By the hundreds of thousands they are rioting in Tahrir Square. They are not rioting for American aid. They are rioting for us to quit giving aid to the despots who rule them.

Mubarak ruled for 30-some-odd years. He ruled by martial law. He made people disappear also. What about human rights? What about dignity? What about trials they just recently--the Muslim Brotherhood--tried 16 Americans in absentia. If they were there, they would have put them in jail. Yet all these same people are afraid to take away money.

How do you think leverage would best work? How would we have leverage? Maybe if we withheld some aid, we would have leverage. But if you give them everything they want all the time, any time, do you think they are going to do something differently? They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different response. We have given the aid for 30-some-odd years.

We gave a dictator in the Congo--Mobutu--aid for years and years. They called his wife Gucci Mobutu. Why? Because she would take a Louis Vuitton bag, full of about $1 million in cash, to Paris and spend it in a weekend--your money, our money, spent on lavish homes. Mobutu had seven palaces. I think Mubarak has six or seven palaces. They steal the money. It doesn't buy the good will of the people. It actually buys ill will. It does completely the opposite of everything they say it does. It does completely the opposite.

So there is a disagreement on this. But the one thing there is not a disagreement on is that it is against the law. The Republican Party maintains: Oh, we are for the rule of law, and we proudly beat our chest all the time and say to Democrats: Oh, you don't want the rule of law; the President disobeys the rule of law. Guess what. This time many Democrats and Republicans will flout the rule of law because the rule of law says military aid ends when you have a coup. It doesn't say you can wait around until it is convenient for you and maybe you can parcel out the aid in different ways. It doesn't say that. It says military aid ends until there is an election. It is very clear about this.

So the argument is about whether you believe in the rule of law. If you do, there is no question you have to vote for this amendment because this amendment simply restates the law. I am not even creating the law. I am just restating the law that says aid ends and it resumes when there is an election.

So those who say he is against all aid, don't listen to him, he is against all aid, that is not what this amendment does. This amendment enforces the law that actually every one of these men and women voted for. They voted for this law. It has been on the books 30-some-odd years, and the law says that aid ends when you have a military coup. So they are all going to vote to bypass a law they have all supported. Every one of them supported this law.

This isn't some extreme position of no aid; this is a position of temporarily halting it. It is their plan, but it is not convenient now to obey the law they passed.

This is an important debate. It is not about doing things to harm Israel; it is about doing things that, actually, I think would be beneficial to Israel. It is not about ending all aid; it is about obeying the law. It shouldn't be about whether aid is good or bad. I think there are a lot of bad things and unintended consequences that come from the aid, but it is not about that. It is about whether we are going to obey the law.

I say think long and hard about this. Some say they are going to do something more important than what their people at home want, and they are very proud they are going to stand against the will of the people. Three-fourths of Republicans, three-fourths of Democrats, and three-fourths of Independents or higher think it is a bad idea to be sending good money after bad overseas. We do have problems at home and this could go toward fixing them.

Some say it is only 1 percent. Foreign aid is only 1 percent. Guess what. If you cut 1 percent of the budget each year, the budget balances within about
5 years. It is called the penny plan. Many on my side have actually endorsed this plan. So 1 percent isn't an insignificant amount of money, and it is not working. It is doing the wrong thing.

So I urge a ``yes'' vote on the amendment.

I retain the remainder of my time.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Mr. PAUL. Mr. President, several points have been made about whether we should engage with Egypt. Absolutely, we should. But the Egyptian people don't see it as engagement when the engagement is at the end of a truncheon, when the engagement is tear gas bought with American money and then sprayed on them. They do not quite understand that as engagement. So buying arms--American tanks and American tear gas--to be used for crowd control isn't exactly what the Egyptian people have in mind as far as engagement.

With regard to Israel, there is no unified statement from the nation of Israel saying they are for this. I have had both private and public discussions with the leaders of Israel, and to tell you the truth, without naming individuals, I can tell you they are not too excited about sending more arms to Egypt. So for someone to come to the floor and say they speak for the nation of Israel, they speak for all people who love Israel in our country, is false.

There are probably 20 different groups in our country that support the nation of Israel and support them as our ally. I speak to them all the time. I visit with them daily and weekly in our office. So what I can tell you is if you talk to the people, to the grassroots and not to the so-called leadership, you will find a much different story. Because I would promise you--let me speak to the entire crowd at an AIPAC meeting and we will see whether they like sending more weapons to the Muslim Brotherhood or more weapons to Egypt. I think you will find a resounding no.

This amendment is ultimately about the law, and I hope my colleagues will remember that if they vote against this amendment they are flouting the law, they are voting to disobey the law, they are voting against the rule of law, and they are actually voting against a law they have all voted for.

I reserve the remainder of my time.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT


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