Nightly News   |  August 18, 2013

How should the US handle Egypt?

Some are calling for President Obama to deny Egypt aid because of the recent violent clashes in the nation. NBC’s Kristen Welker reports.

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>>> there was more debate today on a central question, should the u.s. suspend military and economic aid to egypt ? nbc's kristen welker is with the president on martha's vineyard.

>> reporter: as president obama wrapped up his vacation on martha's vineyard today, his policy toward egypt came under sharp criticism in washington.

>> we have no credibility.

>> reporter: senator john mccain , who recently traveled to egypt at the request of president obama and who initially opposed cutting off the $1.3 billion in u.s. military aid to the country, now argues that given the ongoing violence, aid should end.

>> when we threaten something, as we did that we would cut off aid, the administration did, and then not do it, then you lose your credibility and your influence.

>> reporter: while some fellow republicans disagreed --

>> i would be reluctant to cut off aid. obviously, we should use it as a bargaining wedge.

>> reporter: there was also mounting for partisan support for holding back u.s. dollars .

>> the recent violent crackdown, i do not see how we can continue aid. i believe it must be suspended. there's no way to say this is not a coup t is. we should say so and we should follow our own law, which says we can't -- we cannot fund the coup leaders.

>> reporter: administration officials wouldn't respond to today's attacks, except to say the president continues to review his egypt policy. u.s. officials tell nbc news, among the options under consideration, withholding several apache helicopters sold to egypt four years ago and set to be delivered this fall. this past week, the president announced he would suspend upcoming joint military exercises , both moves largely symbol inc., and not nearly as consequential as ending aid.

>> it's really says to take the step at one level of cutting the assistance but then tough live with the consequences of t we may find it difficult to re-establish a connection with the egyptian military .

>> reporter: analysts say another consideration, america's key ally, israel, believes funding the egyptian military is necessary to maintain stability in the