U.S. aid to Egypt's military now a sticking point

(CBS News) WASHINGTON - Funerals were held Sunday for demonstrators killed in continuing street clashes in Egypt.

Meanwhile in Washington, the talk revolved around nudging Egypt back toward democracy.

Opponents of ousted President Morsi gathered in downtown Cairo Sunday, and so did members of his party, the Muslim Brotherhood.

On "Face the Nation," Arizona Republican Senator John McCain said it was time for the U.S. to take a stand.

"The United States should not be supporting this coup," McCain said.

McCain argued that the U.S. should reassess the $1.5 billion it gives to Egypt each year, much of which goes to the country's military.

"Reluctantly, I believe that we have to suspend aid until such time as there is a new constitution and a free and fair election," McCain said.

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U.S. law requires Washington to cut off aid to any nation whose military ousts a democratically elected leader.

So Egypt's ambassador to the U.S. Mohamed Tawfik argued Sunday that's not what this was.

"Egypt has not undergone a military coup and it is certainly not run by the military," Tawfik said.

He pointed out the military quickly handed power to interim civilian leaders after it removed Morsi on Wednesday.

"What has happened is that the people of Egypt have decided that President Morsi did not act during his year in office as president for all Egyptians. 22 million Egyptians wrote petitions demanding early elections," Tawfik said.

The White House has struck a carefully neutral tone, refusing to use the word "coup" even as it orders a review of U.S. aid to Egypt.

Republican Mike Rogers, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, said Egypt's military needs that aid, whether you define this week's ouster as a coup or not.

"We should continue to support the military, the one stabilizing force in Egypt that I think can tamper down the political feuding that you're seeing going on now," Rogers said.

Rogers admits there are going to be disputes over the legality of maintaining aid, so he argues Obama should go to Capitol Hill to argue for it directly.

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Egyptian jet fighters trail smoke in the colours of the national flag as they fly over Tahrir Square in Cairo, on July 7, 2013, as tens of thousands of people staged a show of force in Tahrir Square to back the army's ouster of Egypt's first freely elected president. Getty Images
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    Nancy Cordes is CBS News' congressional correspondent.