Sen. Paul Floor Speech on Cutting Aid to Egypt
WASHINGTON, D.C - Sen. Rand Paul today took to the Senate floor to discuss his proposed amendment to the upcoming highway bill that would cut U.S. economic aid to Egypt pending the release of American pro-democracy workers currently held in that country.
Mr. President, some Senators are concerned that I may be delaying a vote in the Senate. This is not true.
I offered yesterday to vote on my amendment with 10 minutes of discussion. I've offered to vote immediately at any point in time, but I do think it's worth ten minutes of our time and ten minutes of Americans' time to discuss the plight of U.S. citizens in Egypt.
I do not think that 10 minutes is too much to ask that we discuss, debate and vote on whether or not Egypt should continue to get aid from us while detaining our citizens. Egypt is unlawfully preventing U.S. citizens from leaving their country. I do not think that ten minutes is too much to ask.
We've sent over $60 billion in aid to Egypt over the years and they now hold 19 U.S. citizens virtually hostage. Will we ever learn? Will we ever learn that you can't buy friendship?
Nineteen U.S. citizens who traveled to Egypt to help Egypt, to help Egypt embrace democracy, to help Egypt have an elected government and enjoy the freedoms that we enjoy here and the success that we've enjoyed here having a democratic government. They are now being prevented from leaving Egypt.
Some of these pro-democracy workers, in fact, are now seeking refuge in the U.S. Embassy. This is a tragedy. This is something that we should make a clear and unequivocal statement about. Does Egypt wish to be part of the civilized world or do they wish to descend into the lawlessness of the third world?
Now, some have argued that we don't need these provisions, that there are already provisions in place to prevent Egypt from getting aid. Well, apparently the Egyptians listening and they need to listen very clearly.
The amendment that I've proposed will end all aid to Egypt, economic aid and military aid. We give over $1.5 billion Egypt every year and we cannot continue to give aid to a country that is detaining illegally our U.S. citizens.
Now, some have said the provisions that we already have take care of this. There's a couple of problems: The Egyptians aren't hearing that message so the message needs to be louder and more firm. We will not tolerate any country citizens as hostage or lawlessly.
I think Egypt needs to know that America means business and that's what this debate is all about. And so I don't think it's too much to ask the Senate to consider this proposal on Egypt, spend ten minutes and let's have a vote to send a message to Egypt.
Will we ever learn? Will we ever learn that you can't buy friendship? We will ever learn that you can't create Democrats out of authoritarians simply by buying them off? We have tried it.
We have sent billions of dollars to Africa and asked authoritarians who rape and pillage their people, who torture their own people, we give them more money trying to convince them to be Democrats. It hasn't worked.
We need to have a firmer hand and a firmer hand says no more aid to countries that detain U.S. citizens, no more aid to countries that don't allow their citizens to vote, no more aid to countries who torture and rape and pillage their populations.
We've sent billions of dollars to Afghanistan, and it's an insult to Americans and particularly to American soldiers that the President of Pakistan has said if there were a war -- the President of Afghanistan has said, if there were a war that he would side with Pakistan against the United States.
Will we ever learn that we send money, billions of dollars to these countries, and apparently they still dislike us, disrespect us and say they will side with our enemies.
We now have officials in Pakistan. Pakistan's gotten billions of dollars from us. We now have officials in Pakistan saying that Pakistan will side with Iran. So Afghanistan's telling us they will side with Pakistan. Pakistan's saying they will side with Iran. And what does the U.S. taxpayer get? Send more money.
No. 1, we don't even have the money. We're borrowing the money from China. But we were asked to send more money to people who disrespect us. I think that's an insult and should end.
Will we ever learn? Will we ever learn that you can't buy friendship? Will we ever learn that authoritarians, no matter how much money you give them, will not become Democrats?
Egypt must be put on notice and the President is not leading on this issue. Just a few weeks ago, the President's Undersecretary of State Robert Hormats stated that he wanted to make sure that the administration assured the Egyptians that we want to provide more immediate benefits.
Do you think that's sending a wrong message to the Egyptians? They're detaining 19 U.S. Citizens, preventing them from leaving, preventing them from coming home.
Citizens are holed up in our embassy and the administration says we need to make sure that the benefits get there immediately. The Administration is bragging about sending more aid to Egypt.
Just yesterday, the President comes out with a new budget. Guess what? There's $1.5 billion of taxpayer money to be sent to Egypt. What kind of message are we sending them?
I think the President is not leading the country, is not exemplifying what most Americans would want and that is to send a clear and unequivocal message to Egypt that we will not tolerate this behavior, we will not subsidize this behavior. Think of it.
The American taxpayers being asked to subsidize a government that is detaining U.S. citizens. The American taxpayers are being asked to subsidize Pakistan, who says they would side with Iran.
The American citizen, the American taxpayer is being asked to subsidize Afghanistan, who says they would side with Pakistan against us. All the while we're running trillion-dollar deficits. All the while we're borrowing this money. All the while we're bankrupting our country.
The Egyptians need to be sent a clear and unequivocal message. I think it's worth 10 minutes of the Senate's time to have a vote on this.
I think it's worth it for the 19 U.S. citizens. If it were my child in Egypt, working there for a pro-democracy group, I would want to think that the Senate did have 10 minutes of time.
I would want to think that the Senate could spare 10 minutes of time to send the Egyptians an unequivocal signal that we will not tolerate this and you must let our citizens come home.
The United States will not and should not stand for detention of American citizens, for imprisonment or travel restrictions on citizens. The United States should not send aid to a government that so casually accuses American citizens of political crimes.
So while some will say I'm holding up the business of the Senate, I will argue that this is the business of the Senate, that foreign policy was delegated, much of it, to the United States Senate, that we are abdicating our role, and that we as a United States Senate should send a clear and unequivocal message to Egypt.
So I will continue to argue, despite much opposition, to have a vote on this to send a signal to Egypt that we will not tolerate the detention of U.S. citizens.