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Photo: Alastair Pike/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration announced Tuesday that it has approved plans for a $197 million missile sale to Egypt.

Why it matters: The decision comes despite concerns about Egypt's human rights record. It coincides with news of the arrest in Egypt of family members of Mohamed Soltan, a vocal U.S.-based Egyptian American human rights activist.

Details: The State Department said in a statement it notified Congress about the plans, which it said would "support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a Major Non-NATO Ally country that continues to be an important strategic partner in the Middle East."

  • "The proposed sale will support the Egyptian Navy’s Fast Missile Craft ships and provide significantly enhanced area defense capabilities over Egypt’s coastal areas and approaches to the Suez Canal," the statement added.
  • "Egypt will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces since Egypt already operates previously procured RAM Block 1A missiles."

What they're saying: State Department spokesperson Ned Price said at a briefing Tuesday the Biden administration had and was continuing to "engage the Egyptian government on human rights concerns and we take seriously all allegations of arbitrary arrest or detention.

  • "We will bring our values with us into every relationship that we have across the globe," he added.
  • "That includes with our close security partners. That includes with Egypt."

For the record: Soltan spent some two years as a political prisoner in Egypt after being arrested protesting the 2013 coup by then-military leader Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who is now president.

  • He has filed a lawsuit alleging that he was tortured while in custody in the country.
  • Soltan's nonprofit, the Freedom Initiative, said in a statement the targeting of his family members marks the latest attempt by the government of Sisi "to silence its critics living abroad."

Go deeper

Republican Sen. Sasse slams Nebraska GOP for "weird worship" of Trump after state party rebuke

Sen. Ben Sasse, (R-Neb.) Photo: Andrew Harnik - Pool/Getty Images

The Nebraska Republican Party on Saturday formally "rebuked" Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) for his vote to impeach former President Trump earlier this year, though it stopped short of a formal censure, CNN reports.

Why it matters: Sasse is the latest among a slate of Republicans who have faced some sort of punishment from their state party apparatus after voting to impeach the former president. The senator responded statement Saturday, per the Omaha World-Herald, saying "most Nebraskans don't think politics should be about the weird worship of one dude."

Cuomo barraged by fellow Dems after second harassment accusation

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced a barrage of criticism from fellow Democrats after The New York Times reported that the second former aide in four days had accused him of sexual harassment.

Why it matters: Cuomo had faced a revolt from legislators for his handling of nursing-home deaths from COVID. Now, the scandal is acutely personal, with obviously grave political risk.

2 hours ago - Health

Fauci: Children "very likely" to get COVID vaccine at start of 2022

NIAID Director Anthony Fauci. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Children under age 12 will "very likely" be able to get vaccinated for coronavirus at the "earliest the end of the year, and very likely the first quarter of 2022," NIAID Director Anthony Fauci told "Meet the Press" Sunday.

Why it matters: Children generally aren't at risk of serious coronavirus infections, but vaccinating them will be key to protecting the adults around them and, eventually, reaching herd immunity, writes Axios' Caitlin Owens.

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