U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has proposed new amendments to strip foreign aid from Pakistan, Egypt and Libya, that would triple funding for a jobs bill for American veterans.
The proposal is in reaction to recent protests and attacks against American consulates and embassies in Libya and Egypt, including the killing of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. It is also aimed at drawing attention t the continued imprisonment of Shakil Afridi, a Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA locate Osama bin Laden.
Total U.S. foreign aid to Pakistan, Libya and Egypt totals approximately $4 billion annually.
Paul’s amendment will cut that aid and put an additional $2 billion toward a veterans jobs bill that is moving its way through the Senate. The remaining $2 billion would go to deficit reduction.
“I urge (Senate Majority Leader Harry) Reid to do the right thing for taxpayers and veterans: To send a message to countries that our aid can’t be taken for granted, and to stand up for our troops abroad now, and those who have returned home after serving,” says Paul. “He can do all of this by allowing a vote on my amendment. My amendment would halt all foreign aid to Pakistan, Egypt, and Libya, and would use those funds to triple the size of the veterans jobs bill. The only thing now standing in the way of this is the Democratic Senate Leadership.”
The jobs bill seeks to train armed service members returning to the U.S. to work in the park system as well as police officers, firefighters and EMTs. But Paul’s amendments on foreign aid puts a procedural hurdle in front of the jobs bill and jeopardizes its passage.
Speaking on the Senate floor Thursday, Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, D-Ma., criticized Paul’s amendments as short-sighted.
From The Express Tribune:
Senator Kerry said that Libya and Egypt were going through a period of transition after revolutions, and added that the first few years were not easy, and highlighted the US’ history as an example. Egypt was a US ally even under former president Hosni Mubarak’s regime.
Recounting that troops in the northwestern part of Pakistan were losing their lives to militants, “and you want to cut off aid?” asked Senator Kerry.
The committee chairman reminded that US troops in Afghanistan get some supplies through the supply routes in Pakistan. Senator Kerry added the US has been able to decimate the al Qaeda with Pakistan’s help.
According to The Hill, the chief policy officer at Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America has said he is disheartened that veterans are being “held hostage by gamesmanship in the Senate.”