Speaker John A. Boehner is choosing his words carefully in regard to Egypt.
Asked on Monday whether he would call the recent ouster of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi a "coup," Boehner refused to use the "c-word."
"The situation in Egypt is a tenuous one," the Ohio Republican said. "One of the most respected institutions in the country is their military. And I think that their military, on behalf of the citizens, did what they had to do in terms of replacing the elected president."
Whether the Egyptian uprising was coup d'etat is the $1.5 billion question.
The United States currently sends Egypt about $1.5 billion in aid every year, of which $1.3 billion is for the military.
Under current law, foreign aid is prohibited to governments of any country “whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup d'etat or decree or ... a coup d'etat or decree in which the military plays a decisive role." The only way to turn the aid back on is by certifying a democratically elected government has taken office; there is no waiver.
Last Wednesday — when the military detained Morsi, suspended the Egyptian Constitution and implemented an interim government — the White House issued a lengthy statement that also carefully avoided using the word coup.
And White House spokesman Jay Carney on Monday suggested it would take some time for the Obama administration to determine whether what happened in Egypt was a coup.
"I would say that we are going to take the time necessary to review what has taken place and to monitor efforts by Egyptian authorities to forge an inclusive and democratic way forward," Carney said. "And as we do, we will review our requirements under the law and we will do so consistent with our policy objectives. And we will also, of course, consult with Congress on the matter."
Carney also told reporters that it would not be in the interests of the United States to cut off aid now, and he said the administration would consult with Congress.
Boehner said Congress would "wait for consultations with the administration on how we would move ahead."
But the clamor to end aid has already begun on Capitol Hill, with both Democrats and Republicans calling for suspension of funds to Egypt. For example, on Monday, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., called for a suspension of U.S. aid to Egypt.