By now my colleagues in the Senate are familiar with the tragic story of Pakistani doctor Shakil Afridi. Since Dr. Afridi was taken into custody by Pakistani officials in May 2012, I have been fighting for his release. I have also been working for a vote on a bill that would cut foreign aid to Pakistan until they free this ally of America.
In the weeks leading up to that attack on the compound by SEAL Team 6, there was a doctor in Pakistan who helped us determine Osama bin Laden’s exact location. Dr. Afridi risked his own life to provide the American military with intelligence that confirmed the particular location of the bin Laden compound. The information provided by Dr. Afridi directly led to bin Laden’s death.
Dr. Afridi remains under arrest and has been subject to torture. If Pakistan wants to be our ally — and receive foreign aid — then they should act like it, and they must start by releasing Dr. Afridi.
As I was fighting this battle, tragedy struck again in the Middle East with the attack that killed four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, at the U.S. consulate, and the attack on the U.S. embassy in Egypt. I, like many Americans, was outraged. I believe that the perpetrators of these senseless acts of violence must be brought to justice, but I also believe that Libya and Egypt must be held accountable in the same way.
Therefore, I have proposed a bill to demand that until the Libyan police hand over suspects to U.S. officials, and until the Egyptian government vows to protect our embassy, any U.S. foreign aid will be suspended.
Last week, I requested that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, provide a brief amount of time for debate and a vote on my amendment to end U.S. aid to Pakistan, Egypt and Libya. Yet, Senate Democrat leadership blocked it. I will continue my effort this week and have announced my intentions to stop all Senate business with a filibuster.
You and I have been reminded that our enemies are relentless, but we were also reminded that our so-called allies are often not acting like allies at all. We send billions of taxpayer dollars abroad and what do we get in return? Disrespect, disdain and, ultimately, violence.
American taxpayer dollars should not go to Libya until the murderers are delivered to justice. Nor should they go to Egypt until the Egyptians prove that they are willing and able to protect our embassy. Finally, not one more penny of American taxpayer dollars should go to Pakistan until the doctor who helped us get bin Laden is freed.
We should not reward bad behavior, yet that is what we’ve done with foreign aid for so many years. The total U.S. foreign aid given to Pakistan, Libya and Egypt equals roughly $4 billion per year. But enough is enough. So I have announced that I will block any and all legislation until Mr. Reid allows for a debate and vote on these foreign aid bills.
As this is expected to be the final week of legislative session for both the House and Senate before an extended recess, the elected officials must take immediate action to pass a much-needed bill demanding cooperation and accountability from the countries involved in the recent violence directed at our embassies, consulates and allies.
The timing of this action by Congress is vitally important. I have insisted on floor consideration and votes on these issues in the Senate, and will be engaged in a filibuster of the Continuing Resolution (CR) and any recess for adjournment until the Senate allows action on these vital matters.
The CR is not due until Sept. 30, but because my colleagues in the Senate seem to value their campaigning time, the Senate is trying to vote on the CR this week and leave until the election. I vow to filibuster any legislation until the Senate addresses our vital need for foreign aid reform. I regretfully apologize to all of my colleagues, as I am told my filibuster will put a kink in their campaign plans and flights home this week.
It is time for Congress to do the right thing. It is time for the Senate to prioritize their responsibilities to the American people.
Sen. Rand Paul is a Kentucky Republican.