WASHINGTON, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- Two top U.S. Senate Republicans called Friday for a cutoff of U.S. aid to Egypt where hundreds of people were killed in political clashes this week.
Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., issued a statement urging the Obama administration "to suspend U.S. assistance to Egypt and make clear to the current leadership of the country what steps we believe are necessary to halt Egypt's descent into civil conflict and ultimately to restore our assistance relationship, which has historically served U.S. national security interests."
"The interim civilian government and security forces -- backed up, unfortunately, by the military -- are taking Egypt down a dark path, one that the United States cannot and should not travel with them," the statement said.
Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Rand Paul, R-Ky., said Thursday the aid -- about $1.3 billion annually -- should be frozen in response to the Egyptian military's overthrow in July of President Mohamed Morsi.
The administration has declined to designate the overthrow as a coup -- terminology that may automatically trigger a suspension of the aid.
President Obama said Thursday the United States has canceled a joint U.S.-Egyptian military exercise because of the Egyptian crackdown on protests supporting Morsi.