WASHINGTON, July 10 Four U.S. lawmakers
introduced legislation on Wednesday that would force more public
disclosure about foreign aid programs, amid debate over whether
to suspend the $1.5 billion that Washington sends to Egypt each
The bipartisan bills introduced in the Senate and House of
Representatives would require that regular evaluations of
foreign assistance programs be made public, with the goal of
showing taxpayers how their money is spent, and convincing them
of the value of the aid.
Foreign aid represents only about 1 percent of the federal
government's annual budget, but can be the subject of fierce
Democrat Ben Cardin and Republican Marco Rubio, who
introduced the bill in the Senate, said they had been working on
the legislation for months.
The aid issue is in the spotlight because Washington gives
$1.3 billion in military funding and $250 million in economic
assistance each year to Egypt, whose democratically elected
president was ousted by the country's military last week.
Aides to the lawmakers said the legislation was not directly
tied to the situation in Egypt, although one commented that the
"timing is certainly opportune."
U.S. law bars aid to Egypt if the Obama administration
deemed the ouster of President Mohamed Mursi to have been a
coup, as Mursi's supporters have charged. Egypt's military says
it toppled the former leader with the support of Egyptians and
because he had failed to meet demands for national unity.
But proponents of U.S. aid to Egypt say doing so would risk
damaging a country that has been an important regional ally and
remove U.S. leverage over Egypt's military.
The White House has said repeatedly that it would take time
to determine whether Mursi's overthrow was a coup.
Among other things, the bills in Congress would require
biennial reports from the Government Accountability Office on
different agencies' implementation of the legislation. They also
recommend that Congress take into account those reports when
appropriating funds for federal agencies that administer foreign
"Taxpayers deserve to know where their tax dollars are being
spent and how effectively these investments are representing our
nation's international priorities," Rubio said in a statement.
A similar bill was introduced in the House by Republican
Representatives Ted Poe and Democrat Gerald Connolly.