Representatives Malinowski and Schiff Lead Call for Meaningful Cut to U.S. Military Assistance to the Egyptian Military Regime

April 29, 2021
Press Release

(Washington, DC) Today, Representatives Tom Malinowski (NJ-07) and Adam Schiff (CA-28) led a letter signed by eight of their colleagues, calling for the House Appropriations Committee to make several key changes to the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) package allocated to the Egyptian government. These changes are consistent with U.S. national security interests and the Biden Administration's renewed emphasis on elevating human rights concerns as a national security priority. They include: 

A $75M cut to the topline $1.3B FMF package for Egypt. The FY21 bill conditioned of the FMF package on human rights without a waiver.  As Egypt's repression of its citizens and harassment of Americans has gotten worse, it clearly has not met the conditions for this assistance to be released. 

  1. A requirement that the State Department provide to Congress clear public metrics that it will use to determine whether Egypt has met the conditions necessary to certify the rest of the $225M conditioned on human rights in the FY22 and subsequent packages.  These metrics would provide Egypt a clear path to address longstanding U.S. concerns and strengthen Congress' oversight of this substantial expenditure of security assistance.
  2. A requirement that the State Department certify that the Egyptian government’s harassment and intimidation of Americans does not constitute a pattern.  Under current law, such a pattern would trigger a mandatory suspension of security assistance.

“We do not believe that U.S. interests are best secured by providing FMF to a government whose repression is an underlying cause of extremism and terrorism. Cutting $75 million from the Egypt FMF appropriation in FY 2022, as well as committing to sequential reductions of $75 million if the Sisi government does not meet benchmarks, would signal Congress’ intent to reduce U.S. security assistance until Egypt makes concrete progress to improve human rights,” wrote the lawmakers.

Read the full text of the letter here and below.

 

Dear Chair Lee and Ranking Member Rogers, 

We write to respectfully ask that you reduce the annual foreign military financing (FMF) allocation for Egypt by $75 million in FY 2022 and commit to further reductions of $75 million in subsequent fiscal years if Egypt does not meet the required human rights conditions. In addition, we believe it is vital that the Committee: (1) maintain the human rights conditionalities and limitations on Egypt FMF that reached $300 million beginning in FY18; (2) propose additional report language requiring the Department of State to make public a set of numeric, measurable thresholds that it will use to determine whether to release the broader $225 million in FMF, which unlike the $75 million is subject to a waiver; and (3) tie disbursement of FMF to a certification by the Secretary of State that Egyptian government harassment of Americans does not constitute a pattern in violation of 22 USC 2576. We believe these changes are necessary to advance U.S. interests. They also would be consistent with President Biden’s campaign commitment to “[n]o more blank checks” for the Egyptian military regime. 

This year marks a decade since Egyptians overthrew the yoke of security forces noted for corruption, torture, and aggressive suppression of peaceful criticism and activism. Unfortunately, Egyptians today find themselves living under an even more repressive, military-led government. More than 60,000 Egyptians are being held as political prisoners—a higher rate of unjust detention than other countries in the region. Thousands face persistent torture, arbitrary justice, and digital surveillance at the hands of Egypt’s security forces. In addition, President Sisi’s regime continues to harass American citizens. At least five legal permanent residents and three U.S. citizens are being held on politically motivated charges, while multiple siblings and cousins are held to silence their family members in the United States. And so it is clear: conditioning a small portion of FMF, without a waiver, has not provided sufficient incentive for Egypt to change course and uphold human rights.   

We do not believe that U.S. interests are best secured by providing FMF to a government whose repression is an underlying cause of extremism and terrorism. Cutting $75 million from the Egypt FMF appropriation in FY 2022, as well as committing to sequential reductions of $75 million if the Sisi government does not meet benchmarks, would signal Congress’ intent to reduce U.S. security assistance until Egypt makes concrete progress to improve human rights. As you know, U.S. security commitments to Israel, including to maintaining its Qualitative Military Edge, remain independent of FMF outlays to Egypt and so would not be affected by these prudent changes.  

Thank you for your consideration of these requests and for your commitment to human rights and the protection of Americans’ protected speech as core national security interests. 

 Respectfully,