9/28/12 05:44 PM ET EDT
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration’s plan to transfer $450 million in cash to Egypt hit a roadblock Friday as a top House committee chairwoman blocked the move, saying it warrants further review.
Rep. Kay Granger, R-Texas, said the State Department had notified Congress of plans to move the money to the new government of President Mohammed Morsi as Cairo struggles economically. The money is part of the nearly $1 billion in debt relief that President Barack Obama had promised Egypt earlier this year.
“This proposal comes to Congress at a point when the U.S.-Egypt relationship has never been under more scrutiny, and rightly so,” the chairwoman of the Appropriations subcommittee on foreign operations said in a statement. “I am not convinced of the urgent need for this assistance and I cannot support it at this time. … I have placed a hold on these funds.”
The relationship between the United States and Egypt has been rocky since the overthrow of U.S. ally President Hosni Mubarak last year. The Egyptian government angered Washington when it cracked down on numerous democracy advocates and groups, including three U.S.-funded nongovernmental organizations, earlier this year.
More recently, demonstrators breached the U.S. Embassy in Cairo to protest an anti-Islam video, and some in Congress have called for cutting off aid. The United States provides Egypt with $1.55 billion annually – $250 million in economic aid and $1.3 billion in military aid.
The cash transfer would have come from money that had already been appropriated.