House conservatives call for stripping aid to Libya, Egypt from spending bill
September 13, 2012
A group of House conservatives is calling for foreign aid to Libya and Egypt to be stripped from a six-month federal funding bill set for a vote on Thursday.
A handful of lawmakers voiced outrage Wednesday at the Obama administration's response to the attacks on the U.S. embassies in those countries, and suggested the inclusion of foreign aid could influence their votes.
"It makes it easier to vote ‘no' " on the spending bill, freshman Rep. Jeff Landry (R-La.) said at a press event with conservative House Republicans at the Capitol.
The House on Thursday plans to vote on a continuing resolution that would extend federal funding through March, preventing a government shutdown before the election or during a lame-duck session of Congress this fall. While conservatives pushed to avoid a shutdown fight, they have also raised alarms about the inclusion of additional welfare funding in the bill.
"It would show a tremendous amount of leadership from this administration, in light of the recent developments, if the president were to come back and demand that the amount of money that is in the [continuing resolution] for Libya and Egypt be stripped. That would be tremendous leadership," Landry said.
Lawmakers said they planned to bring up the issue at a meeting of the conservative Republican Study Committee on Wednesday, although they acknowledged it would be difficult to strip the foreign aid in so short an amount of time.
The stopgap spending bill is expected to pass with bipartisan support, including from Republican vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.).
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said that defunding Libya and Egypt in the continuing resolution (CR) would not be possible.
"The CR is closed for changes," he said Wednesday.
The chairman said the Foreign Affairs Committee should take up the matter, and suggested that moving on aid now would be "premature."
In a separate statement Wednesday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said continued aid to Libya should be contingent on its government's help in finding those responsible for the attack on the U.S. embassy.
Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) said the administration should be asking several questions in the wake of the attacks, which killed four Americans at the consulate in Benghazi, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens.
"Why is it that the United States is bankrolling some of these countries?" he asked. "Why do we continue to bankroll them at the level that we are? We're waiting for that discussion from the administration."