Egypt: Background and U.S. Relations

Egypt: Background and U.S. Relations

aigyptosJeremy M. Sharp
Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs
March 3, 2015

This report provides an overview of the key issues for Congress related to Egypt and U.S. foreign
aid to Egypt.
The United States has provided significant military and economic assistance to Egypt since the
late 1970s. U.S. policy makers have routinely explained aid to Egypt as an investment in regional
stability, built primarily on long-running cooperation with the Egyptian military and on sustaining
the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty.
U.S. policy makers are now debating complex questions about the future of U.S.-Egypt relations,
and these debates and events in Egypt are shaping consideration of appropriations and
authorization legislation in the 114th Congress.
Between 1948 and 2015, the United States provided Egypt with $76 billion in bilateral foreign aid
(calculated in historical dollars—not adjusted for inflation), including $1.3 billion a year in
military aid from 1987 to the present. This report discusses the conditions governing the release
of these funds. All U.S. foreign aid to Egypt (or any foreign recipient) is appropriated and
authorized by Congress. All U.S. military aid to Egypt finances the procurement of weapons
systems and services from U.S. defense contractors.
P.L. 113-235, the FY2015 Consolidated Appropriations Act, contains a number of provisions and
conditions on U.S. assistance to Egypt similar to what Congress included in the FY2014
appropriations act (P.L. 113-76) with one significant exception: Section 7041 (a)(6)(C) of the
FY2015 act authorizes the Secretary of State to provide assistance to Egypt, notwithstanding the
certification requirements specified both in the FY2015 Act and in the FY2014 Act, if the
Secretary determines that it is important to the national security interest of the United States to
provide such assistance. This determination-based waiver effectively provides for the removal of
limits imposed by Congress that prevented the provision of assistance to Egypt until democracybased
conditions were met by the Egyptian government. As of February 2015, the Secretary of
State has not made a determination that would waive democracy-related certification
requirements and allow for the provision of assistance. Egypt plans to hold legislative elections in
March 2015.
For FY2016, the President has requested that Congress appropriate $1.3 billion in military
assistance for Egypt. The President also is asking Congress to provide $150 million in economic
aid, which would be the lowest amount of bilateral economic grant assistance given to Egypt
since 1978.

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