Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul sought Thursday to block the transfer of F-16 fighter jets and Abrams tanks to Egypt.
“I think it particularly unwise to send tanks and our most sophisticated fighter planes to Egypt at a time when many are saying the country may be unraveling,” Paul said on the Senate floor.
Lockheed Martin shipped 20 F-16s to Egypt last year while General Dynamics signed a contract to deliver parts for 125 Abrams M1A1 tanks to be manufactured in Egypt the year before, the New York Times reported.
U.S. aid to Egypt has been controversial since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak and the ascendancy of the Muslim Brotherhood under new President Mohamed Morsi. But the Obama administration resumed the aid to reward the country’s democratic progress.
The senator has previously attempted to suspend all American foreign aid to Egypt.
“I think this is particularly unwise since Egypt is currently governed by a religious zealot, a religious zealot who said recently that ‘Jews were bloodsuckers and descendants of apes and pigs,’” Paul continued. “This doesn’t sound like the kind of stable personality we would be sending our most sophisticated weapons to.”
Paul also expressed concern “that these weapons threaten Israel’s security” and promote a regional arms race. The senator recently returned from a high-profile trip to Israel during which he repeatedly expressed his commitment to a strong alliance with the Jewish state.
“Egypt is descending into chaos,” Paul chief of staff Doug Stafford told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “We should not be arming them with advanced weapons. It is not in our interest, it is not in the interest of the Egyptian people and it is not in the interest of Israel.”
“We don’t know who will control those weapons and we don’t know who they might be used on in the future,” Stafford added.
Paul’s measure is a proposed amendment to the bill extending the debt limit until May, which the Senate is expected to vote on Thursday.
Update: Paul’s amendment was defeated by a Senate vote of 79 to 19.
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