Senate Votes on Paul Egypt Aid Amendment
The U.S. Senate today voted on Sen. Rand Paul's amendment to S. 1243, the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill. Amendment No. 1739 stops military foreign assistance to Egypt by enforcing current law that the Obama Administration is violating, which prohibits the United States from providing foreign assistance to nations that experience a military coups d'état. That money would be redirected to the "Bridges in Critical Corridors" fund in S.1243. Click HERE to read Amendment No. 1739 in its entirety.
The amendment was tabled, with a vote of 13-86.
Prior to the vote, Sen. Paul took to the Senate floor to discuss his amendment. Below is video and transcript of his speech.
A once-great city, Detroit, lies in ruins. 50,000 feral dogs roam the city. 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 streetlights in Detroit. God forbid that a major fire 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 die in Chicago this year than in Afghanistan. Yet, the President insists on building a $34 million forth -- fort in Afghanistan. Hillary Clinton insists on spending $80 million on a consulate in Afghanistan that will never be used.
As Detroit decays, Chicago's a maelstrom of violence, and yet no one questions sending billions of your dollars to Egypt, to despots, to dictators in foreign countries. Our nation's bridges are crumbling, and few politicians from either party will question billions of dollars are being sent overseas while our nation's infrastructures crumbling.
The law is very clear. Everyone here in Congress can read. They recognize, they recognize that the law says when there is a military coup, the aid must end. Today we will vote on whether or not 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's the law. There is no presidential waiver.
The law states unequivocally that the aid must end. So 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, and yet there is not enough money to repair our bridges because your politicians are sending the money overseas. It's unwise, and right now it's illegal.
Countries like Egypt are getting billions of dollars in aid. Meanwhile, they recently let a mob advance on our embassy, climb atop our embassy and 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. They left the country or we'd have 16 Americans imprisoned by 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 that 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 won't be built because we're sending the money to countries that are burning our flag?
I think it's unwise to send arms, particularly advanced arms, into the chaos of Egypt. I fear one day that 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 that 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 that showed 70% of Egyptians don't want the money we're sending them. To understand why, you have to understand that American aid doesn't go to the Egyptian people. It goes to the despots and the dictators that run the place.
You have to realize that when protesters gather in Cairo by the hundreds of thousands and even millions they gather in Tahrir square, why are they unhappy with America? They're unhappy with America because they're being sprayed with tear gas, bout with American tax -- dollars manufactured in Pennsylvania and given to the military.
Why are they unhappy? Foreign aid doesn't go to people. It goes to foreign despots and foreign dictators. Foreign aid is more likely to buy a lavish chateau in Paris than to buy bread in Egypt. It buys jets for the move to Mubarak family.
Over the past 30 years Americans have been forced to finance the Mubarak family living large. So when you see pictures of depression in Detroit, when you see abandoned housing in Detroit, when you see boarded up housing, when you see 50,000 dogs running through the streets of Detroit, when you see a once great nation, once great city lying in decay, you think about your politicians who chose to send that money to Egypt and not keep it here at home.
As Detroit decays, as the money is stolen and squandered around the world, but as Detroit decays, as Chicago is overrun with violence, as Americans struggle to put food on the table, Mubarak and his family dined 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. You wonder why they're unhappy with us?
We've been financing the guy that's 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're doused with tear gas made in our country. Foreign aid doesn't go to foreign people. It goes to despots and dictators.
The President claims that he feels your pain. The President says he can feel the pain and he wants to help the middle class. But it seems like 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 that the President would be different. I wanted to believe that he would bring change. I wanted to believe that 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 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? Where are you when 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, like 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 you have 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's a coup. But he just says I'm not going to say it's not a coup, you can't make me. It's ridiculous that any intelligent person or country, and I wonder if any of those will stand up and say it's not a coup. How do you say when a military takes over a country and boots out a government that it's not a cue? Only a fool or a demagogue would attempt to argue the military junta in Egypt is not a cue, that the military takeover that installed the lead general as deputy prime minister is somehow not a coup.
Sen. Inhofe: Would the Senator yield for a unanimous consent request?
Sen. Paul: Not yet. In a remarkable bid 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's not going to decide whether there was a coup or not.
What it is it's brazen and open flouting of the law. The President's argument reminds me of a third grader at recess. A third grader says he won't call it a coup, and you can't make him. It's absurd. We passed a law. The law of the land says if a coup happens, if the military takes over or participates in a substantial way in removing an elected government, that the military aid ends.
So we're either a nation of laws or not. So when the President refuses to acknowledge that it's a coup, that it's not yet an acknowledged coup, he just says aid is going to go on indefinitely. He will go on indefinitely flouting the law. Americans should be outraged and insulted by such blatant shirking of the law. Either we're a nation of laws or we're not. Will we obey the law or not?
We have the presumption to tell the world how to behave, to criticize Egypt for not obeying the rule of law, all legitimate concerns. And 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. We always have been. America's always been the leader by example.
But how do we lead by example when we're not going to obey our own laws? There really is a question, are we a monarchy or a republic? Are we possible 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 that enough's enough. We aren't going to take it anymore.
Call your representative 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. Mr. President, I suggest that 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 that I will introduce shortly will give your representatives a chance to vote for this. We're going to say, yes, we will obey the law. We're not sending any more weapons to Egypt and we're going to take the money, but we're going to build some bridges in our country. We're going to repair some roads. We're going to work on some infrastructure here at home.
Everybody seems to say they're for it. In fact, The President has now come out and he says he wants some grand bargain to take some new money and actually work on infrastructure. Mr. President, it's right here. I'm offering it today. Mr. President, I have another amendment that would say all foreign profit can come home at 5%. We take that revenue and we build new bridges. They won't even let me vote on that one.
So the President's grand bargain to increase infrastructure spending, I've got it. It's here on the floor. Mr. President, call the leadership of the Senate. Tell them it's 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. So when you see the pictures on the news and what's going on in Detroit, if you live in Detroit and you're suffering through the bankruptcy of your city, if you see around you the chaos and poverty of Detroit, you look and call The President.
You 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? And the President says, I'm just going to send that to Egypt. I'm 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 you ask the American people, three-fourths or more of them, I think maybe nearly 100% of the American people are with me.
Let's spend that money at home. Let's don't 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 here at home. So, Mr. President, I encourage a "yes" vote to vote to keep the money at home and not to send it overseas. And I reserve the balance of my time.
This is actually precisely the time it should come up, because on the infrastructure bill that we're looking at, this gives Americans a chance to show the 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. We always hear a lot of empty thoughts and empty promises. We'll do this in committee, we'll do this. They don't want this debate. I have been fighting tooth and nail against members of my own party to get 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 holds military aid until you have an election. It's just obeying the law. So let's be very clear, maybe we should do a summary of what their arguments are. This is a summary of their argument: They love sending American money overseas so much that they don't mind breaking the law. I didn't hear one of them here explain how they're going to adhere to the law. The law says military aids ends when there is a coup.
The President says you can't make him say that there is a coup. There probably is a coup, but he is never going to say it, he is never going to adjudicate it. Who is going to adjudicate whether there was a coup or not? This is about temporarily halting aid. Some people rise up and say oh, we'll be closed out and they will buy their weapons somewhere else.
They don't have any money. We give them the money to buy our weapons. Some have said we want to promote democracy. Well, there's an exemption in this. You can spend as much money as you want on democracy.
So the thing is we have to understand what this is about. We have to understand that this is about a temporary halting of buying weapons. People say "well, if we don't give them planes, if we don't pay them to buy our planes, they will think we don't like them and they will go to war with Israel. Everything will be so much worse." They have hundreds of F-16's. They have thousands of tanks.
I'm precisely worried about them using them against Israel. When there's chaos and blood running in the street. When there's millions of people protesting, you think it's a good time to send more weapons? You think it's a good time to send more weapons when millions of people are in the street? What happens when these weapons are used against Israel?
The canard of bringing the letter -- it always happens, someone brings a letter in. I have spoken to many people who love, respect and have a great deal of admiration for Israel. I admire our relationship and our alliance and am very proud of the fact that we stand together on so many issues.
So to bring it up and say "oh, the people who are against this don't care about Israel is just a canard." I think that this precisely continuing to arm an unstable government in Egypt could well be to Israel's harm, and that's precisely why I bring this amendment forward.
Also, it needs to be clear for the record that everyone who's come forward to gather 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.
You hear them talking about Islamic jihadist and how they're worried about all this. No, they're not. They are for junk the Islamic jihadist; they were for funding the Muslim Brotherhood just months ago. I have had this vote before. I have voted to cut off the aid a more rational, reasonable pace, someday, somewhere in some fictitious committee.
No, we're not. They want the money to continue. It doesn't go to the Egyptian people. It doesn't buy goodwill. 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're 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're going to give money to people who make people disappear?
Does anybody who remembers the Soviet Union, these same people stand up and say how bad it is that the Soviet Union made someone disappear. I'm absolutely with them. I support that. It's terrible. That's 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 didn'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's a finite amount of money. Detroit lies in ruins. Chicago is full of violence. There are bridges everywhere, and they'll let them paint this that I have some special thing in Kentucky.
There is no earmark going for Kentucky. There is going for the transportation bill for the whole country. There is no special thing for Detroit. But I pointed out that we have problems here at home. The other side will falsely say you want isolationism or you want to disengage from the world. Hogwash.
I want to be involved. I'm for being involved with Egypt. I'm for trade for international and global interaction and diplomacy and all of those things. But do you think you're gaining and making the world a better place by sending a few more F-16's and tanks and tear gas to Egypt?
You think that's somehow making the world a safer place? No, if I thought the foreign aid would 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 the Egyptian people won't like us anymore if we don't give them money. 70% of the
Egyptian people said they don't want our money. It doesn't go to them. The people by the millions are arriving in Cairo, by the hundreds of thousands in Tahrir Square. They're not rioting for American aid. They're rioting for us to quit giving aid to the despots that rule them. Mubarak ruled for 30-some odd years. He ruled by martial law. He made people disappear also. You know, 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 had to put them in jail. Yet, all these same people are afraid to take money away. 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 just give them everything they want all the time any time, do you think they're going to do something differently?
They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different response. We've given the aid for 30-some odd years. We gave a dictator in the Congo, Mobutu aid for years. His wife they called Gucci. Why? Because she would take a million dollar bag and spend it in Paris over the weekend.
Your money, our money, spent on lavish home. Mobutu had seven palaces. It doesn't buy goodwill of the people. It 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. The one thing there is not a disagreement on, it's against the law.
The Republican Party maintains we're for the rule of law. And we proudly beat our chest all the time and say to democrats, you don't want the rule of law and 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 the military aid ends when you have a coup.
It doesn't say you can wait around until it's convenient for you and that maybe you can parcel out the aid in different ways. It doesn't say that. It says the military aid ends until there is an election. It is very clear about this. What the argument is about here is do 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'm not even creating the law. I'm just restating the law that the aid ends and it resumes when there's an election. So though who want to say he's against all aid, don't listen to him, he's against all aid. That is not what this amendment does.
This amendment enforces the law that actually every one of these guys, men and women, voted for. It's been on the book for 30-some odd years and the law says aid ends when you have a military coup. They're going to vote to bypass a law they supported. Every one of them supported this law.
This isn't some extreme position of no aid. This is a position of temporary halting it. It's their plan. It's not convenient now to obey the law that they passed. This is an important debate. It's not about doing things to harm Israel. It's about doing things that actually I think would be beneficial to Israel.
It's not about ending all aid. It's about obeying the law. It's 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's not really about that. It's about whether you're going to obey the law or not.
So what I would say is think long and hard about this. Some say they're going to do something that's more important than what their people at home want and that they're very proud they're 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 have problems at home and this could go towards fixing it. Some say foreign aid is only 1%.
Guess what? If you cut 1% of the budget each year, your budget balances within about five years. It's called the Penny Plan. Many on my side endorsed this Penny Plan. 1% isn't an insignificant amount of money. So I urge a "yes" vote on that and I retain the remainder of my time.
Mr. President, several points have been made about whether or not 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 sprayed on them. They don't 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 that they're for this. I've 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're 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, it's just false. There's probably 20 different groups in our country who 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 grass roots and not to the so-called leadership, you will find a much different story because I would promise you, and I would ask and seek to have AIPAC let me speak to their entire crowd, and we'll see whether the crowd likes at an AIPAC meeting whether they like sending more weapons to the Muslim Brotherhood or more weapons to Egypt.
I think you'll find a resounding no. This amendment is ultimately about the law, and I hope my colleagues will remember that if they vote against their amendment, they're flouting the law. They're voting to disobey the law. They're voting against the rule of law and they're actually voting against the law they all have voted for.