President Barack Obama is meeting with his national security team at the White House this afternoon to discuss aid to Egypt — as more senators called for a suspension amid that country’s military overthrow and slaughter in the streets.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters the president would discuss the issue of aid to Egypt this afternoon but said not to expect any immediate announcements afterwards.
The White House’s position on Egypt aid has been murky. The administration initially declined to say whether the coup in Egypt was a coup — which would require an end to aid under existing law — only to announce that it had decided not to decide the question and effectively ignore that section of the law.
Earnest in Tuesday’s briefing was unable to detail what would cause Egypt to lose aid, beyond saying that the actions of Egypt’s new military and civilian rulers would affect that assessment.
He also disputed reports, based on comments from staff for Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., that military aid had been stopped for the time being.
Earnest said that aid is not a “faucet” but instead goes in “tranches,” and that while the biggest pieces of U.S. aid — a transfer of F-16s and the cancellation of a joint training exercise — have been stopped, others have continued.
Also Tuesday, two more senators — Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Patrick J. Toomey, R-Pa. — issued statements calling for Obama to cut off aid, joining a growing chorus since the past week’s eruption of violence in the streets of Cairo.
“American taxpayers should not contribute to a military that slaughters civilians in the street,” Toomey said, noting that he had voted last month to table an amendment from Rand Paul, R-Ky., to suspend aid but now has changed his mind.
Kaine called the situation in Egypt “intolerable” and urged the administration to review with Congress the United States’ relationship with Egypt.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.