Key lawmakers are debating whether to ease the tough restrictions on military aid to Egypt that they put in place after the military ousted democratically elected President Mohammed Morsi, Al-Monitor has learned.

The potential changes are part of continuing talks surrounding a 10-month “omnibus” spending bill that House and Senate leaders hope to pass by Dec. 11, when the current stopgap measure expires. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s muscular crackdown on Islamists — including campaigns in the Sinai Peninsula and against smuggling tunnels to Gaza — is prompting some lawmakers to consider giving the Obama administration more flexibility to keep the $1.3 billion a year military aid spigot open despite human rights concerns.

“Egypt is one of the most problematic [aid relationships], because things have changed so much, so many times, in such a short period of time, and so we always have to work with where Egypt is right now,” State and Foreign Operations panel Chairwoman Kay Granger, R-Texas, told Al-Monitor. “I’ve always said we need to decide on funding given what they’re doing that helps our national security. And I think that [Sinai and tunnel operations] does. So I’m looking favorably toward Egypt.” […]