Representative Kay Granger, a Texas Republican, said today she will block a White House move to give Egypt $450 million in aid as part of its efforts to stabilize the country and support its economy.
“This proposal comes to Congress at a point when the U.S.- Egypt relationship has never been under more scrutiny, and rightly so,” Granger, chairwoman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, said in a statement. “I am not convinced of the urgent need for this assistance and I cannot support it at this time.”
“I have placed a hold on these funds,” she said. Granger doesn’t have legal authority to prevent the administration from releasing the money, making her action an informal effort to stop the funding, according to a congressional aide who wasn’t authorized to comment publicly.
The funding is part of $1 billion in debt relief the Obama administration said it would give Egypt to stabilize its faltering economy and support the country’s shaky transition to democracy.
Granger has decided to oppose the aid because of her concerns about Egypt’s new government, its policies and the anti-U.S. demonstrations that rocked the capitol, Cairo, two weeks ago, according to the aide. The aide said that the funds were appropriated earlier and hadn’t yet been spent.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in New York for the annual United Nations General Assembly, met this morning with a group of countries seeking to support Middle Eastern nations making the transition to democracy. Clinton called on countries in attendance to support these nations.
“Many of our partners are also making the difficult transition from protest to politics, and they need our support as they take on the different responsibilities of leadership,” Clinton said at the G8-Deauville Partnership with Arab Countries in Transition.
“But economic and social challenges did not disappear with the dictators,” she said. “Too many people still can’t find jobs, and young and growing populations crave a sense of opportunity and self-determination.”
Clinton has repeatedly warned that failing economies create openings for extremists to take advantage of grievances, particularly among the young unemployed.
In a Sept. 26 speech to the UN, Egypt’s President Mohamed Mursi decried the way donor countries put “conditionalities” on the “necessary funding for development.”