Representatives Ted Poe (R-TX) and Jim McGovern (D-MA) spoke to Alhurra Television, reacting to the Obama Administration’s report to Congress on Egypt. The report, while harshly criticizing the Egyptian government for its lack of free speech and for undermining democracy, recommended that the U.S. continue to send $1.3 billion in aid to Egypt. Both lawmakers had tough words about the lack of freedoms highlighted in the President’s report. Rep. Poe said he did not think Egypt was doing enough to protect vulnerable groups within Egypt, stating the government “needs to do a better job” protecting religious minorities.
In a separate interview, Rep. McGovern also expressed his concern regarding reports coming out of Egypt from human rights organizations. He said he thought the U.S. could “do a better job of raising the issue of human rights” with the current Egyptian government and said that he felt “there are serious…abuses of human rights” in Egypt.
Both Congressmen discussed the use of aid, expected to be used primarily for security, as leverage to address these abuses with the north African government. Rep. McGovern noted that people around the world are concerned about human rights abuses in Egypt and urged the Obama Administration to use this aid as a way to “influence and pressure the Egyptian government in a constructive way.” He added, “I think security assistance should always be linked to human rights conditions.”
Rep. Poe also remarked that he wanted to make sure that human rights are being protected in Egypt. He said that “a discussion needs to take place, and always needs to take place, before we send money.”