Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said Congress should consider withholding the Biden administration's $235 million military aid request for Egypt pending an investigation into the country's behavior toward the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC).
Federal prosecutors last week accused Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and his wife of illegally using his position as the SFRC chair to peddle influence seeking to protect and enrich New Jersey businessmen, and benefit the government of Egypt.
"It's a devastating series of allegations," Murphy said Tuesday, the Washington Examiner reported. "And as a committee, we now have a responsibility to understand what Egypt was doing and what Egypt thought it was getting. There are serious implications for U.S. policy towards Egypt if, as the indictment suggests, they were trying to use illicit means to curry favor on the committee."
Menendez temporarily stepped down as chair of the SFRC but has refused to resign from office.
On Monday, Menendez denied wrongdoing and vowed to stay in Congress.
Murphy, chair the SFRC's Middle East subcommittee, did not say whether the House or Senate should conduct an inquiry into Egypt actions.
"I would hope that our committee would consider using any ability it has to put a pause on those dollars, pending an inquiry into what Egypt was doing," he said. "I have not talked to colleagues about this yet, but obviously, this raises pretty serious questions about Egypt's conduct."
Earlier this month, the Biden administration announced that it had approved a $235 million waiver, which would release previously withheld funds to Egypt, the Examiner reported.
Supporters of the move say it benefits U.S. national security interests. Opponents point to Egypt's lack of progress on human rights.
Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., co-founder of the congressional Egypt Human Rights Caucus, released a statement Sunday on the Menendez indictment and urged the administration "and my colleagues in Congress to note and respond forcefully to the covert Egyptian campaign to thwart American foreign policy aims detailed in the indictment."
Beyer later said in an interview that Egypt "is conducting an espionage operation within the U.S. Senate. … I think that calls for a much stronger response from the Biden administration, and the straightforward one is to withhold [military aid]," the Examiner reported.
Reuters contributed to this story.
Charlie McCarthy, a writer/editor at Newsmax, has nearly 40 years of experience covering news, sports, and politics.
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