Officials suggested that using the threat of an aid cutoff to push the Egyptian military and other political players toward reconciliation would be more effective than imposing a punishment that could alienate the generals.
"This is a complex situation, and it is not in our interests to move … unnecessarily quickly in making a determination like that," Carney said. "We need to be mindful of our objective here, which is to assist the Egyptian people in their transition to democracy, and to remain faithful to our national security interests."
The administration wants to ensure that Egypt maintains close cooperation on counter-terrorism and that it continues to respect the 1979 peace treaty with Israel, a cornerstone for peace in the region.
Last week, after Egypt's military toppled President
Under U.S. law, American military, economic and other aid is cut off if a democratic government is overthrown by
Though the language of the law seems categorical, lawyers say the government has some latitude in carrying out the restrictions. Past administrations have found wiggle room in such situations, and in this case, White House officials have carefully avoided calling the ouster a "coup."
Washington provides $1.3 billion in annual military assistance to Egypt and $250 million in civilian aid.The Egyptian military clearly values the aid, but many experts say it is not so important that a potential cutoff would persuade the military to move against its core interests.
Though some senior lawmakers, such as Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), have called for halting the aid, many others in