The Kentucky conservative proposed the measure as a way to override the Obama administration’s refusal to classify the recent political upheaval in Egypt as a “military coup” — a move that by law would’ve frozen aid to the north African country.
The proposal called for redirecting the $1.5 billion in mainly military assistance the U.S. provides Egypt each year to bridge-building projects in the U.S.
The measure, which failed by a vote of 83-13, was attached as an amendment to a transportation and housing spending bill.
Paul, who is mulling a 2016 presidential run, casted his debate in terms of refocusing U.S. government efforts to rebuild the nation’s crumbling infrastructure.
“The president sends billions of dollars to Egypt in the form of advanced fighter planes and tanks. Meanwhile, Detroit crumbles. Chicago is a war zone,” said Paul in a floor speech before the failed voted.
“The president is intent on building nations abroad and not taking care of our nation here at home.”
But hawks like Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said the aid is needed to prevent Egypt from “descending into chaos.”
“It’s important that we send a message to Egypt that we’re not abandoning them,” McCain said.
The Egyptian military removed former President Mohammed Morsi from his post earlier this month amid escalating protests about his failure to respond to deep economic divisions in the country during his one year in power. The Obama administration has repeatedly insisted it’s not aligned with any one group and has avoided calling Morsi’s ouster a coup so that U.S. aid could continue.