Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., saw his plan to cut aid to Egypt fail Wednesday 83 to 13 when senators voted to table the amendment.
The vote to freeze the $1.5 billion in military aid comes just weeks after Egypt's military overthrew elected leader Mohamed Morsi.
"Do you think you are making the world a better place by sending a few more F-16s or tanks or tear gas to Egypt," Paul said on the Senate floor before the vote. "We do have problems at home and this could go to fixing it."
The vote attracted more support than a similar effort last Congress,which garnered just 10 votes. The debate surrounding how much aid the U.S. should be giving to a country engaged in a civil war revealed a deep schism in the Republican party, however, between defense hawks Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and the libertarian faction of the party including Paul and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah.
"The timing is not right for this vote," McCain said Tuesday. "The situation is very fluid in Egypt right now. It is very delicate. We don't know which way the government is going to go."
Under the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, anytime a coup occurs, the U.S. government is required to suspend all military aid to a country, but the White House has been careful in how it characterizes the situation in Egypt. The Obama administration did hold off on sending four F-16 fighter jets to Egypt in mid-July but has avoided using the term "coup."
Some in the Senate wish the administration would be more clear in how it would like the government to address the evolving situation in Egypt.
"The lack of control by either side is causing more and more bloodshed," says Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. "It is a very difficult situation and the administration needs to put forth a policy for Congress to consider."
Many senators thought cutting off the aid all at once, as Paul's plan did, simply went too far. However, many would be open to discussing restricting aid until the Egyptian military establishes a legitimate government and holds open elections, Hill sources say.
Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, argued the aid should be "conditional."
The White House has asked Graham and McCain to visit Egypt next week to meet with military leaders in the country and try to encourage them to move forward with establishing an elected government.