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Public Statements

Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. PAUL. Mr. President, I wish to commend the Senator from Oklahoma on being a leader in trying to repair and restore our infrastructure. I think the Senator from Oklahoma has shown that this is a bipartisan issue.

I rise today not only to support the bipartisan nature of rebuilding our infrastructure but also to address an urgent concern regarding what is happening in Egypt. I rise to introduce an amendment to suspend foreign aid to Egypt until they release our American citizens.

The situation in Egypt over the past year has been tumultuous, and their people and government stand at a moment where they will choose their future. Will they stand for freedom? Will they choose to stand with the United States? The choice is entirely theirs, of course, but their recent actions are troubling and should give us reason to reconsider our significant aid to the Government of Egypt.

What bothers critics of our foreign policy is the disconnect between hope and reality. Well-intentioned people vote to give aid to countries in hopes they will promote freedom, democracy, and the interests of the United States abroad. Too often, though, it does none of those things. Instead, it enriches dictators and emboldens governments that act against our interests.

Right now American citizens who work for prodemocracy organizations in Egypt are being held hostage. There really is no other way to put it. These innocent American citizens are not being allowed to leave Egypt and are facing trial by a military government.

This situation has been allowed to escalate by the Obama administration over the past several months, as authorities in Egypt have accelerated a cynical war against these prodemocracy forces--these individuals who are American citizens--in an attempt to gain support from radicals who are convinced that NGOs represent a Western plot to undermine Egypt. These extremists seek to impose their own agenda in Egypt and are determined to prevent Egypt's democratic process as much as possible.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces in Egypt--the ones responsible for the transition--has demonstrated that they are not only willing but are in the process of using American citizens as scapegoats for the continual upheaval in Egypt. Their actions do not illustrate a significant democratic transition. In fact, they are encouraging and provoking distrust among the Egyptian people by making false allegations about the nature of these American citizens.

In the aftermath of the Arab revolution and the toppling of the authoritarian Mubarak government, Egypt finds itself in critical need of support in order to build a functioning democratic system. Yet, in late December, Egyptian authorities abruptly raided the offices of several nongovernmental organizations working toward democratic development, seizing their computers and documents. This past weekend Egyptian prosecutors filed criminal charges against these innocent American citizens. This must not be allowed to stand.

The American people should be concerned. We are subsidizing behavior, through U.S. taxpayer foreign aid to Egypt, that is leading to and allowing for the unjust detainment of American citizens in Egypt. Egypt is one of the largest recipients of foreign aid, totaling over $70 billion over the last half century. Egypt's ruling military has itself received $1.3 billion in foreign aid every year since 1987, and they have the gall to hold American citizens hostage. This must end.

Not everyone in this body agrees on foreign policy or on the role of U.S. foreign assistance. But the reckless actions of Egyptian authorities in this matter should bring us together to form one undeniable conclusion: American foreign assistance dollars should never be provided to any country that bullies our citizens, recklessly seeks to arrest them on imaginary charges or denies them access to their most basic rights.

Egypt must immediately stop the detainment and prosecution of these American citizens. If they fail to do so, then we have the moral obligation to immediately end their foreign aid. The time for action is now.

I will offer an amendment to suspend Egypt's foreign aid until our American citizens are released. It is our duty as our people's representatives to ensure no more American taxpayer dollars will flow to Egypt until they rescind the charges against innocent Americans and allow them to peacefully leave the country. The American people are behind this, and I advise the Senate to consider that we should no longer send foreign aid to a country that is illegally detaining our citizens.

I yield the floor.


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