Boehner, McCain Call for Democratic Reform in Egypt

Posted January 30, 2011 at 10:47am

Two Republican lawmakers appearing on the Sunday morning news shows offered their support for the Obama administration’s response to political unrest in Egypt.

“Our administration so far has handled this tense situation pretty well,” Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Clearly reforms need to occur in Egypt, and, frankly, anyplace around the world where people are calling out for freedom and democracy, I think we have a responsibility to respond.

“I think listening to the Egyptian people, working with the government to bring more democratic reforms is all in the right direction,” he said.

The fall of the Tunisian government in January inspired Egyptians last week to take to the streets to call for President Hosni Mubarak to end his 30-year rule.

But while Boehner and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, called for democratic reforms in Egypt, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell warned against overstepping.

“I don’t have any criticism of President Obama or Secretary [of State Hillary Rodham] Clinton at this point. They know full well we can’t give the Egyptians advice about their leadership,” the Kentucky Republican said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

McCain, the ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said that although the United States should not turn its back on Mubarak, “we need to be on the right side of history in these countries, and we need to do a better job of emphasizing and arguing strenuously for human rights.”

“It was clear for a long time that the kind of repressive regime … that Mubarak controls, sooner or later there is going to be great difficulties,” he added.

McCain called on Mubarak to lift a state of emergency and follow through on elections already scheduled for September. The situation is “fraught with danger … but there is also a good chance for a real functioning democracy and arguably the most important nation in the Middle East,” he added.

When asked whether Congress could consider cutting foreign aid to Egypt, McCain responded, “I think that we have to say that everything is on the table and encourage and help and assist, you know, a process that leads to a free and fair election.”

On President Barack Obama’s response to the situation, McCain said he was supportive of the statements the president has made thus far, but he would like the administration to “get out in front on this issue on behalf of the things we have always stood for and believed in.”

Alison McSherry contributed to this report.