The Washington Times - March 13, 2013, 05:20PM

Sen. Marco Rubio said Wednesday that Congress should use its 2013 spending bill to cut U.S. aid to Egypt until the Middle East nation adopts economic and human rights reforms.

Mr. Rubio told The Washington Times that his proposed Egypt Accountability and Democracy Amendment would require that the country’s government — now under control of President Mohammed Morsi — enact reforms that protect the political, economic and religious freedoms and human rights of its citizens and residents before it gets another dime of U.S. taxpayers’ money.

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“Our foreign aid is not charity. Our foreign aid is used to advance our foreign policy interests,” Mr. Rubio said. “We have a right to be concerned.”

The proposal also requires the government of Egypt to demonstrate its commitment to free and fair elections and to uphold the peace treaty the nation signed in 1979 with Israel.

Mr. Rubio, who won his Senate seat from Florida in 2010, is thought to be pondering a 2016 bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

A member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Senate intelligence committee, Mr. Rubio traveled last month to Jordan and Israel, where he met with Israeli President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and Jordan’s King Abdullah II.

The trip came on the heels of a visit the previous month from Sen. Rand Paul, another tea party favorite and potential 2016 White House hopefuls.

Mr. Paul also has targeted assistance to Egypt, pushing a proposal in January that would have prohibited the sale of F-16 fighter jets, M1 tanks and other weapons to Egypt.

The amendment won the support of Mr. Rubio and 18 other Republicans, but died in the Senate.

Mr. Paul also pushed a proposal in September that would have denied the $4 billion in U.S. funds from going to Pakistan, Egypt and Libya in the wake of the attacks on U.S. consulates and embassies in the Middle East, and because of the imprisonment of Pakistani Dr. Shakil Afridi, who helped the United States locate Osama bin Laden.

Mr. Rubio said he missed the early morning vote because of a flight delay, but that he would have voted against that proposal because the three countries should not be treated the same.

“Every country is different,” Mr. Rubio said.