Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs, said elections “are but one step in the democratic process – the new transitional authority must engage constructively with all political actors and finally begin the hard work of building democratic institutions that remain severely underdeveloped throughout Egypt.”
Casey traveled to Egypt in April and stressed work is needed to allow the country to “once again emerge as a genuine leader in the region.”
“Democratic reform will take time following years of autocratic rule by Mubarak and democratic backsliding in recent years,” he said. ”During this tenuous period, the U.S. should be vigilant in support of the democratic process, a free and open press and minority rights in the country.”
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) responded carefully, noting “circumstances in Egypt are rapidly unfolding.”
“During this period of upheaval it is critical that all parties exercise restraint, that protests are peaceful, and that violence is rejected. Already too many lives have been lost during this period of unrest, including that of an American citizen,” Menendez said. “It is imperative that a political solution be reached for the sake of the Egyptian people, and that the nation quickly returns to a democratic and peaceful path where the people’s voices are heard and respected.”
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) criticized the administration for not supporting that democratic process thus far.
“While popularly elected, President Morsi’s government curtailed freedom of religion and equal rights for the Egyptian people as the country’s economy fell into a drawn out period of stagnation,” Issa said.
“Real democracy is about more than just one election – it requires a framework of justice and respect for the rights of all. Unfortunately, U.S. policy toward Egypt did too little to promote true democracy and avoid the necessity of the events that have taken place,” the chairman continued. “The people of Egypt and institutions, including the Egyptian military, historically have been friends and allies to the United States. Our country must support the aspirations of the Egyptian people for a democratic government that respects the rights of all citizens.”
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) called it “unfortunate that Morsi did not heed popular demands for early elections after a year of his incompetent leadership and attempting a power grab for the Muslim Brotherhood.”
“Morsi was an obstacle to the constitutional democracy most Egyptians wanted,” Royce said. “I am hopeful that his departure will reopen the path to a better future for Egypt, and I encourage the military and all political parties to cooperate in the peaceful establishment of democratic institutions and new elections that lead to an Egypt where minority rights are protected. But make no mistake about it, Egypt is in for very difficult days.”
Adly Mansour, chief justice of the country’s Supreme Constitutional Court, will be Egypt’s interim president and opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei will be interim prime minister.
At the State Department today, spokeswoman Jen Psaki said as the ouster unfolded she would not “rank the sides.”
“We don’t take sides, as you know,” Psaki said, adding that they’d been in touch with “all the factions of the Morsi government” as the situation unfolded.
Secretary of State John Kerry, who met with the now ex-president in March, did not issue a statement on Morsi’s ouster.
Though Washington was generally subdued about the dramatic power shift, some lawmakers took to Twitter with their opinions.
“Coup in Egypt a painful development amid mass protests and disaffection w elected govt, albeit a Muslim Brotherhood one,” tweeted Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.).
“Congratulations to the people of Egypt, they have forced out a dictator and president that did not represent their values,” tweeted Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.).
Former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) gave an American political spin to the massive rally celebrating Morsi’s ouster in Cairo.
“Special #FF to everyone involved in the world’s largest Tea Party rally currently taking place at Tahrir Square,” Walsh tweeted.