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Posted at 1:04 PM ET, 02/11/2011

Hosni Mubarak resigns: Reactions from Capitol Hill

By Felicia Sonmez

Updated: 6:30 p.m.

Members of Congress reacted on Friday to the news that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is stepping down and handing over power to the Egyptian military after nearly 30 years of autocratic rule. Below is a round-up of statements from lawmakers on Capitol Hill:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.): "I am pleased that President Mubarak has heard and heeded the voice of the Egyptian people, who have called for change. It is crucial that Mubarak's departure be an orderly one and that it leads to true democracy for Egypt, including free, fair and open elections. We caution all sides against violence during this transition, and we will be watching the situation closely. We wish the Egyptian people the best in their next steps toward determining their own future under a democratic process."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), in response to a question an event at the University of Louisville on Friday: "Egypt is by any objective standards the most important Arab country because it controls the Suez canal, because it has a peace treaty with Israel that's lasted 30 years. We have a big stake in the outcome, but limited ability to affect it. ... What we hope is that whatever the successor government is, it doesn't abrogate the treaty with Israel and doesn't become an ally of Iran and still has a pro-Western feel."

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.): "I applaud President Mubarak's decision to step down. This was obviously a very difficult decision for President Mubarak, but it is the right decision for Egypt. History will note that President Mubarak's last action in office was in the best interest of the country he loves. While this is a welcomed event, the Egyptian people are clearly saying that President Mubarak's resignation should be the beginning, not the end, of their country's transition to democracy. I completely agree. For the Egyptian people to achieve the legitimate and enduring democratic change they seek, representatives from Egypt's pro-democracy parties and movements must be included in the transition government. ... The Egyptian people are demanding a meaningful and irreversible transition to democracy, and I urge the Egyptian military to faithfully support and secure the coming process of political change in Egypt. The United States stands fully ready to assist the Egyptian people and government as they begin the hard work of democratic reform."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.): "The world has benefitted from the impatience of youth in Egypt; our faith in the future is strengthened by their powerful example. They have demonstrated enormous bravery in demanding the democratic freedoms that will help them achieve their aspirations. Today marks progress for the brave people of Egypt, and for those working for universal freedoms around the world. The future of Egypt now belongs to the Egyptian people. As the situation in Egypt unfolds, we will continue to watch closely."

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.): "This is an extraordinary moment for Egypt. Courageous and peaceful demands for freedom and opportunity have now won the Egyptian people a chance at a new beginning. Now the hard work intensifies to prepare for free and fair elections that will allow the people to choose a broadly representative and responsive government. Egypt's army and transitional leaders must heed the call to lift the emergency law and clarify a timetable to establish a proper foundation for credible elections. The United States must help Egyptians turn this democratic moment into a process that builds a government responsive to economic needs as well as demands for freedom. What happens next will have repercussions far beyond Egypt's borders. We know from recent experience in Gaza that this requires not just elections, but hard work to build a government that is transparent, accountable, and broadly representative."

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.): "Now that the immediate demands of the Egyptian people have been met, steps must be taken for the prompt commencement of a calm and orderly transition process towards freedom and democracy in Egypt. This transition must include constitutional and administrative reforms, starting with the repeal of the emergency laws. ... The Egyptian military can continue to play a constructive role in providing for security and stability during this transformational period. The U.S. and our allies must focus our efforts on helping to create the necessary conditions for such a transition to take place. We must also urge the unequivocal rejection of any involvement by the Muslim Brotherhood and other extremists who may seek to exploit and hijack these events to gain power, oppress the Egyptian people, and do great harm to Egypt's relationship with the United States, Israel, and other free nations."

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.): "For more than two weeks, tens of thousands of Egyptians have been peacefully calling for a voice in choosing a representative government. Today, with the departure of Mubarak, those calls have been heard. Egypt's future is now in the hands of the Egyptian people. The United States stands ready to help them move towards peace and democracy."

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.): "Today, the world witnessed a remarkable display of the power of ordinary people peacefully assembling to demand change. The resignation of Egypt's President Mubarak is an inspiring and well-deserved victory for the protesters who have stood against his government. But Egypt's future is still uncertain: the goal of a secular, democratically-elected civilian government, which keeps peace with its neighbors and meets its treaty obligations, will still take hard work and perhaps quite some time to realize in full. From my service as Chair of the Helsinki Commission at the end of the Cold War, I understand that the transition to democracy is an arduous process for any nation. ... And I hope that the United States will continue to support civil society in Egypt and around the world, because such groups are vital to the creation of a culture in which democracy can endure and thrive."

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.): "This is an historic moment for Egypt and the Middle East. For perhaps the first time in its long history, Egypt's government has listened to and heeded its people's legitimate demands for greater freedoms and an end to corruption. This is an opportunity for the Egyptian people to chart a new, more hopeful and democratic future. Today's events should hearten those struggling for greater freedom and respect for human rights in our own Hemisphere. Egypt is a key US partner and we must give our full support to ensure an irreversible and nonviolent transition to genuine democracy. It is imperative that a new Egypt continues to honor its commitment to regional peace and security in the Middle East, especially to its neighbor Israel."

Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.): "President Mubarak has finally heard the voices of the Egyptian people and relinquished his 30-year hold on power, after 18 days of peaceful protests. As Egyptians celebrate their freedom tonight, we celebrate this moment with them. It's important that the military continue to act as a stabilizing force throughout this transition. As a member of the Senate Armed Services and Intelligence committees, I believe we need to do everything we can to continue to support Egypt's peaceful move toward democracy."

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.): "Today's news sends a loud and clear message -- the Egyptian people have finally been heard. Generations of Egyptians have lived under Mubarak's autocratic rule - but no longer. An interim authority, representative of the myriad voices in Egyptian society, can now help guide political reform. Freedom and equality -- so long desired by the Egyptian people -- are within their grasp. After fighting, risking and -- in many cases -- giving their lives, Egyptians now have the opportunity to pursue those ideals."

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.): "Today, the world is witnessing an incredible moment for freedom and liberty as President Mubarak leaves office. Now Egypt's leaders must emerge and take concerted steps that will result in a stable, orderly transition to a real democratic society that fosters prosperity for its people and peace with its neighbors. My hope is that the situation remains non-violent and stability returns to the country."

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.): "This is a historic day, one that has demonstrated the power of people to strive passionately and successfully toward substantial change in a peaceful manner. The Egyptian people want real democracy, free and fair elections, and a voice in their country's future. I hope that the change in power that has been signaled today will bring the Egyptian people closer to achieving those aims and a better life for future generations. ... There are many questions about what will happen next, as well as concerns and even fears. I am hopeful that the transition to free and fair elections in Egypt will proceed in the nonviolent spirit of the protests. And I hope that Egypt will remain a strong partner of the United States of America and serve as a peaceful leader in the Middle East."

Check back throughout the day as we update with more reactions.

By Felicia Sonmez  | February 11, 2011; 1:04 PM ET
Categories:  44 The Obama Presidency  
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Comments

Bunch of johnny come latelys. Obama just waffled.
See? The sky didn't fall.

Posted by: hebe1 | February 11, 2011 2:37 PM | Report abuse

(NOTICE THE DATE AND TITLE OF THE SPEECH)

THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary
(Cairo,Egypt)
________________________________________________
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 4, 2009


REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
ON A NEW BEGINNING
Cairo University
Cairo, Egypt
1:10 P.M. (Local)

".....The fourth issue that I will address is democracy. (Applause.)
I know -- I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years, and much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq. So let me be clear: No system of government can or should be imposed by one nation by any other.

That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people. Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people. America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election. But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn't steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. These are not just American ideas; they are human rights. And that is why we will support them everywhere. (Applause.)
Now, there is no straight line to realize this promise. But this much is clear: Governments that protect these rights are ultimately more stable, successful and secure. Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard around the world, even if we disagree with them. And we will welcome all elected, peaceful governments -- provided they govern with respect for all their people.
This last point is important because there are some who advocate for democracy only when they're out of power; once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others. (Applause.) So no matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who would hold power: You must maintain your power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Barack Obama, we love you!
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you. (Applause.) The fifth issue that we must address together is religious ..."

Posted by: MILLER123 | February 11, 2011 1:53 PM | Report abuse

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