It is a sad reality that national security waivers often render human rights laws moot, inviting the government to overuse the loophole to accommodate immediate needs. The "coup clause," which mandates foreign aid suspension to countries after a military takeover, has long been among the strongest foreign affairs legislation passed by Congress precisely because no such waiver exists for it.
But that may be changing. The House Appropriations Committee passed a bill that would allow aid resumption if the "provision of assistance is vital to the national security interests of the United States." That bill leaves the definition of "national security" up to the administration, potentially allowing aid to be immediately restored to any country of its liking. The Obama administration requested a similar exemption in its fiscal 2014 and 2015 budgets, according to a State Department official.
The proposed change threatens what former Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Arizonia, calls the principled "default position" of the United States against military overthrows. The administration already has significant arguably excessive leeway under the current structure. In July 2013, the United States refused to label the Egyptian military takeover a coup, dithering on the sidelines while it deliberated whether to suspend aid. That lukewarm posture launched the Obama administration's policy of appeasing the new Egyptian regime under Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.