WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration sidestepped a decision on cutting off most of the annual $1.55 billion of U.S. aid to Egypt by saying on Thursday it does not plan to rule on whether a military coup took place in Egypt.
The stance resolves a dilemma for the White House: whether to comply with a U.S. law that requires eliminating most aid in the event of a military coup or to find that the armed forces’ July 3 ouster of President Mohamed Mursi was not in fact a coup.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Obama administration told Congress on Thursday it does not plan to make a determination on whether a military coup occurred in Egypt, avoiding a decision that would force the cut off of most of the annual $1.55 billion in U.S. aid.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns delivered the message in separate briefings to senior members of the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives, several lawmakers told reporters after meeting the number two U.S. diplomat.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican and Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives on Thursday defended their support for a spy program that sweeps up vast amounts of electronic communications after it survived a surprisingly close vote a day earlier.
The House voted 217-205 on Wednesday to defeat an amendment to the defense appropriations bill that would have limited the National Security Agency’s ability to collect electronic information, including phone call records.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. Senate panel voted unanimously on Thursday to seek trade or other sanctions against Russia or any other country that offers asylum to former spy agency contractor Edward Snowden, who has been holed up for weeks at a Moscow airport.
The 30-member Senate Appropriations Committee adopted by consensus an amendment to a spending bill that would direct Secretary of State John Kerry to meet with congressional committees to come up with sanctions against any country that takes Snowden in.
WASHINGTON, July 24 (Reuters) – Democratic lawmakers pushing
to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay said on
Wednesday its cost has skyrocketed to $2.7 million per inmate
this year and argued it is too expensive to keep open while the
country is fighting budget deficits.
“This is a massive waste of money,” Senator Dianne Feinstein
said during a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing on the base.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The chairman of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee on Wednesday released letters from Pentagon officials defending the military’s system for handling sexual assault cases, fending off a fellow Democratic senator’s plan for sweeping changes to deal with the rise in sexual assaults.
The letters released by Senator Carl Levin raised arguments against a plan from Senator Kirsten Gillibrand that would shift the decision on whether to pursue sexual assault cases to an independent military prosecutor from the victim’s commander.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Senate panel in charge of foreign aid proposed on Tuesday that funds sent to Egypt be kept at current levels, but that military aid be divided into four parts and conditions set on it, including that the Cairo government hold a democratic election.
The Senate State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee approved the $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt and $250 million in economic assistance that President Barack Obama requested for fiscal 2014, which starts October 1, matching this year’s level despite upheaval in the most populous Arab nation.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Leaders of the House of Representatives panel in charge of foreign aid proposed on Thursday that military aid for Egypt be kept at $1.3 billion next year, one of few programs left unscathed in a bill seeking steep cuts in international spending.
The draft spending bill from Republican leaders of the House Appropriations committee puts conditions on the military aid, including that the government in Cairo plans and holds elections and honors its 1979 peace treaty with Israel.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Army General Martin Dempsey’s nomination to a second term as the top U.S. military officer hit an unexpected bump on Thursday when a senior Republican lawmaker denounced his stance on Syria during a Senate hearing and vowed to block a vote on the appointment.
Senator John McCain repeatedly questioned Dempsey over his position on the Syrian civil war during a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee and criticized him for declining to give the panel his full opinion on whether the United States should intervene in the conflict.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives panel in charge of aid to Egypt proposed on Thursday that military aid be kept at $1.3 billion next year, subject to conditions including that the government in Cairo plans and holds elections.
However, the bill proposed by the Republican leaders of the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees foreign aid did not include the annual $250 million in economic assistance that has been appropriated for Egypt in recent years.