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Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) revealed on Tuesday that the Biden administration has decided to withhold $85 million in military aid for Egypt tied to the release of political prisoners, and he urged the administration to withhold the remaining $235 million that is conditioned on unmet human rights improvements.

Of the $1.3 billion in Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Foreign Military Financing to Egypt, Congress conditioned $320 million of it on human rights improvements. Out of that amount, $85 million does not have a national security waiver and requires that Egypt make “clear and consistent progress in releasing political prisoners, providing detainees with due process of law, and preventing the intimidation and harassment of U.S. citizens.” The other $235 million is conditioned on Egypt meeting broader democracy and human rights requirements, but the administration can waive those conditions if it certifies that doing so is in the U.S. national interest.

Speaking on the Senate floor, Murphy explained: “For every political prisoner that Egypt releases, three more are jailed. That’s not the kind of ‘clear and consistent progress’ in releasing political prisoners that the law requires. The administration was right to withhold the $85 million.”

The senator urged the administration to go further and withhold the remaining $235 million of conditioned aid. “We need to be clear-eyed about our security relationship with Egypt, and also about Egypt’s human rights record,” he stressed. “The decision that the administration will make this week about holding Egyptians accountable for progress on human rights, it is critical to American credibility. And for that reason, I would urge the administration to finish the job and withhold the full $320 [million] as required by the FY22 Appropriations Act until Egypt’s human rights democracy record improves.”

Rights groupsHouse Democrats and other senators have all urged the administration to withhold the entire $320 million. The administration must make its decision by September 30, and Reuters reported today that it is expected “soon.”


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