WHEELING - U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin called on Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham Tuesday to help him defend his vote maintaining foreign aid to Libya, Pakistan and Egypt following recent terrorist acts.
Manchin, D-W.Va., is seeking re-election next month and has been the target of recent attacks by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. On Sept. 22, Manchin was among senators voting against Paul's amendment to Senate Bill 3576, described as a bill "to provide limitations on United States assistance, and for other purposes." The amendment, if passed, would have halted U.S. aid to Libya, Pakistan and Egypt, among other provisions.
The legislation was defeated Sept. 22 by a vote of 81-10. Manchin and Sens. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.; Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, all voted against the measure.
Manchin noted 30 Republicans were among those voting against Paul's amendment, while another seven didn't vote. In advertising seen throughout West Virginia, Paul accuses Manchin of approving the funding of Muslim extremists in the Middle East.
"Lies and distortions like this attack are exactly the problem in Washington," Manchin said during a conference call with state reporters Tuesday. "First of all, I have promised to never campaign against a sitting colleague - because the constant campaign is making Washington a toxic place. Just as importantly, anyone who knows me knows that I will always fight for our national security and make sure our foreign aid goes to allies who defend our interests.
"In fact, I joined with 80 other senators - Republicans and Democrats - who thought this measure was well-intentioned but severely flawed," he continued. "The way this bill was written would've jeopardized our greatest Middle Eastern ally, Israel. When we voted in September, I promised to work across the aisle to correct the problems and stop giving aid to countries that don't share our values and won't defend our interests - and I am determined to get the right policy in place."
Graham, R-S.C., who serves with Manchin on the Senate Armed Services Committee, commended Manchin for taking the time to gain information about how the measure would affect foreign affairs prior to casting his vote. Graham said halting aid to Egypt specifically would have nullified the Camp David Peace Accords achieved in 1978. Under that agreement, the U.S. must give aid to Egypt if it provides any funds to Israel.
Graham noted it is important to help fund Israel's military at this time and keep Israel stable in the Middle East.
"When the Egyptians break the treaty with Israel, I'll be the first one to cut off aid," he said. "If Pakistanis continue to help kill Americans, I'll be the first to say, 'Enough already.'
"But they're beginning to change their behavior the right way, and I don't want it on my political resume that I created a situation that destroyed the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel because of a political vote back in South Carolina," Graham added. "The security of the world is very much in play here, and if we had passed it that would have been the end of the peace treaty. And it wouldn't have been because of the Egyptians. It would have been because of the American Congress - the U.S. Senate."