Granger Urges Obama to Provide F-16s, Other Weapons to Allies

Feb 20, 2015

By Megan Scully

The chairwoman of the House State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee warned the White House it could face legislative repercussions if it does not provide weapons and funding to allies to assist in the fight against the Islamic State, including a key parochial interest: the long-stalled delivery of F-16 fighter jets to Egypt.

Rep. Kay Granger said in a letter to President Barack Obama on Thursday she will do “everything in my power” to speed up the aid, and she blasted the administration for falling short on its promises to allies battling the terrorist group, also known as ISIL.

“As Egypt, Jordan and the Kurds retaliate and defend themselves against ISIL’s heinous acts, U.S. security assistance is being held or delayed by bureaucratic processes and ill-advised policy decisions by your administration,” the Texas Republican wrote. “As a result, our most trusted and capable partners in the region are limited in their ability to fight ISIL.”

Granger has long been a proponent of international sales and deliveries of F-16 fighter jets, which are assembled at Lockheed Martin Corp.’s Fort Worth facility in her district. In addition to the F-16s, Granger called on Obama to move forward with the delivery of M1A1 Abrams tanks to Egypt, which were among the weapons the administration suspended in 2013 amid concerns that the country’s leaders were not committed to an inclusive democracy following the military ouster of an elected president.

Aid to Egypt remains a contentious topic on Capitol Hill, but lawmakers agreed in the fiscal 2015 omnibus spending package (PL 113-235) to provide $1.3 billion in military financing to help Egypt buy U.S. weapons. The military aid is subject to democracy and human rights conditions, but the bill gives the secretary of State waiver authority.

“They need these planes and the other weapons immediately to continue the fight against ISIL and other terrorists threatening Egypt’s security, but your administration has refused to use the authority Congress provided you in law to provide Egypt these weapons,” Granger said.

In the letter, the congresswoman also reiterated frustrations voiced in Washington recently by King Abdullah II of Jordan that the United States has been slow to assist his country with tactical airlift, aircraft, aircraft parts, night vision equipment and precision munitions.

“His Majesty has been courageous in taking on the fight against terrorists, and there is no reason the King of Jordan, a steadfast U.S. ally, should be waiting, sometimes for years, to know how their needs can be addressed,” said Granger, who added she has received assurances from Secretary of State John Kerry that expediting weapons to Jordan is a priority.

The entire Senate Armed Services Committee sent a letter to Kerry and then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel earlier this month raising many of the same concerns.

During his confirmation hearing Feb. 4, newly sworn-in Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter acknowledged his own frustrations with the slow process of providing allies with arms and aid.

“I don’t know what you heard [from Abdullah ], but I can well believe what you heard, because I have a long experience of frustration with getting equipment to our war fighters, never mind partner war fighters, on time,” said Carter, who previously served as the Pentagon’s deputy secretary and its acquisition chief.

At the White House on Friday, press secretary Josh Earnest said the administration continues to work through some of its differences with Egypt and he defended the administration’s outreach to allies in the region.   “The administration has been focused for quite some time on making sure that we are working to maintain a strong security relationship with our allies and partners in the Middle East,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Kurdish government in Iraq has been waiting for months for much of its requested U.S. assistance, a fact that Granger said makes “no strategic sense.”

“While we have provided them some weapons, it has been a slow process and we are not providing them all of the heavy weapons required to counter well-armed terrorists,” Granger said.