The news that Hosni Mubarak had resigned as Egypt's president reverberated on Capitol Hill Friday, with most lawmakers saying they welcome the news and that Americans are rejoicing with the people of Egypt.
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said he was pleased Hosni Mubarak had heeded the voice of the people, and he called for free, fair and peaceful elections. Republican Senator John McCain issued a statement saying, "History will note that President Mubarak’s last action in office was in the best interest of the country he loves."
Congressman Rob Andrews of New Jersey also welcomes the news. "I think Americans are rejoicing that the people of Egypt will have the opportunity to determine for themselves what their government should look like in the future. I think the proper role for the United States is what our administration has done and will continue to do, which is to facilitate self-determination for the Egyptian people, but not interfere with any of the substance of that self-determination," he said.
Andrews said it is tragic that so many protesters were killed over the past 18 days, but he is amazed at what the people of Egypt were able to achieve in such a short span of time. "I think if anyone would have told you a month ago, that we would be in a position where there was a viable prospect of a peaceful transition of power to a self-determined regime in Cairo, or government in Cairo, that people would have said that is wildly optimistic. I think President Obama and Secretary [of State] Clinton, and their team, with international cooperation, got us there," he said.
Several lawmakers expressed confidence in the Egyptian military, which has assumed the president's powers, as a stabilizing force.
Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio praised the hundreds-of-thousands of Egyptians who took to the streets, saying nothing is more powerful than the power of the people. But he said Friday’s events are just the first step.
"Mr. Mubarak leaving office is just one part of their journey now. Because they are looking at changing the repressive nature of their government, they are looking at creating economic opportunities. So, after a revolution, you must have an evolution. And I would say that we now have a responsibility to encourage the evolution of a truly free Egypt with economic opportunities for the people," he said.
Asked about Friday’s events in Egypt, Republican Representative Steve King of Iowa said he is concerned about U.S. dependence on oil from the Middle East. "So ultimately, we have got to see how it plays out. But I think one thing that I have pointed out, the crisis that is going on in Egypt and all the turmoil that is going on in Egypt and throughout the Middle East shows that this is the last time that our country wants to be increasing our dependence on Middle Eastern oil," he said.
President Obama said a new generation has emerged, and a democratic Egypt can advance its role of responsible leadership in the Middle East and around the world. Vice President Joe Biden said this is a pivotal moment in history. He said that Democrats and Republicans have largely spoken with one voice on Egypt, and said that unity will be even more important in the delicate days ahead.