By a vote of 81 to 10, the Senate on Saturday defeated legislation that would have suspended foreign aid to Pakistan, Egypt and Libya in the wake of the violent anti-American demonstrations in those countries. All 10 supporters of the bill were Republicans.
Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul had threatened to hold up all Senate business until the bill was considered. He succeeded in forcing a vote, but couldn’t come close to passage.
“When nearly 80 percent of Americans believe foreign aid should be reduced – especially to countries that are not our allies – it is inconceivable why their views are ignored by so many in Congress,” Paul said in a statement. “I am far from defeated on this; I will continue to fight for this issue when Congress returns, and I will continue to call attention to the billions of American dollars – borrowed from China, among other places – being sent to governments that are not willing to respect and protect our interests overseas.”
The proposal would have ended aid to the governments of Egypt and Libya until their police forces arrested all the perpetrators of the recent embassy attacks and handed them over to U.S. authorities. Pakistan would have been ineligible to receive aid until its government released an imprisoned doctor who cooperated with Americans in locating Osama bin Laden.
Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey was among the small group of senators who voted for the bill.
“The recent developments in Egypt, Libya and Pakistan are clearly a cause for concern,” Toomey said in a statement. “Although this bill was not perfect, it’s important that we send a message to countries receiving U.S. foreign aid that American assistance comes with responsibilities.”
South Carolina Republican Sen. Jim DeMint and Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee, who have both emerged as key Paul allies, also voted in favor.
Both Democratic and Republican leaders opposed the foreign aid cutoff, and senators were eager to leave Washington.
Paul vowed to keep pressing this issue.
“In no way should the United States government be sending money to governments who are not our ally, who blatantly disrespect our country, and who work to compromise the safety of our allies and citizens abroad,” the senator said.
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