Middle East analyst Robin Wright with the Wilson Center says the core issue is what our policy ought to be.
"The United States faces a really tough dilemma now," she said. "What to do about the most important country in the Arab world, the cornerstone of the peace process, a country that has received over $30 billion in U.S. aid since the peace process began in the late 1970s."
Some in Congress, including Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, already have called for halting the aid, saying the United States "should not be supporting this coup." McCain traveled to Egypt on August 5 along with Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. Both held meetings with representatives of the interim government and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has said the United States hasn't committed much of this year's aid -- and that's a good thing.
"This is an opportunity to have a pause and say to the Egyptians, 'You have an opportunity to come together,' " he said. "You have to have the military understand that that's what we're looking for, a transition right away, as soon as possible."
According to senior U.S. officials last month, the administration is examining three potential options:
-- Call it a coup and cut off aid.
-- Call it a coup and issue a national security waiver to allow aid to continue.
-- Don't call it a coup because the Egyptian military has taken steps to move the country toward a civilian transitional government and subsequent elections.
Now, officials -- both current and former -- recognize the climate is not encouraging.
'Time to call it a coup'
"I think it is time to call it a coup. I think it was time six weeks ago," former Assistant Secretary of State P.J. Crowley said Wednesday.
"Suspend military assistance so the military is invested in the process of rewriting the constitution, setting the parliament and electing a new president."
Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday that while a political solution is still possible, "it has been made much, much harder, much more complicated."
"The path toward violence leads only to greater instability, economic disaster and suffering," Kerry said
He also called for an end to Egypt's new state of emergency, which prevents freedom of peaceful assembly and due process.
U.S. still considering its strategy
But as far as firm actions, the United States' game plan has yet to be drawn.
The Pentagon is mulling whether to halt or delay arms exports.
But as leaders in Washington mull their options, Americans overwhelmingly support staying out of the unrest, according to a recent United Technologies/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll.
Almost eight in 10 Americans (78%) said the United States should "mostly stay out of events" in Egypt, according to the poll. But 16% said the U.S. should "do more" to end the violence.
The desire to stay out of Egypt's affairs might be connected to the fact that a majority of Americans feel what happens in the country isn't very important to U.S. interests.
According to a Pew Research Center poll, 61% of Americans say what happens in Egypt is somewhat important or not important, while 36% say it is very important.