After the Senate Appropriations Committee markup on September 7, the committee released the text of its Fiscal Year 2018 State and Foreign Operations appropriations draft bill and the accompanying report on September 8.
For Egypt, the Senate bill proposes $75 million in economic assistance, $1 billion for Foreign Military Financing (FMF), and $5.8 million in additional security assistance. Notably, the bill seeks to withhold 25 percent of Egypt’s FMF until the Secretary of State certifies that Egypt is taking effective steps to advance democracy and human rights on a variety of issues. These benchmarks include governing democratically and protecting religious minorities and the rights of women; implementing reforms that protect basic freedoms, including the ability of civil society organizations, human rights defenders, and the media to function without interference; releasing political prisoners and providing detainees with due process; holding security forces accountable; investigating and prosecuting cases of extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances, including the torture and murder of Giulio Regeni; and providing regular access for U.S. officials to monitor such assistance in areas where it is used. These conditions may be waived by the Secretary of State on national security grounds, though a detailed report to Congress must accompany the use of the waiver.
The suggested $75 million of economic aid matches the Senate’s FY17 proposal, which eventually was reconciled with the House proposal ($150 million) and settled at $112.5 million. The Senate’s suggested $1 billion in FMF is the lowest level it has proposed since its FY15 appropriations draft bill. The FY18 Senate conditions on Egypt’s FMF largely match conditions found in the FY16 and FY17 appropriations acts, although the FY18 Senate language seeks to condition 25 percent of FMF rather than 15 percent, as was the case in both FY16 and FY17.
Finally, the bill requires that, “not later than 90 days after enactment of the act, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense and the Government of Egypt, shall submit a report to the appropriate congressional committees describing U.S. policy regarding cash-flow financing for assistance for Egypt made available under the FMF heading.”