WASHINGTON, DC – For the first time in more than 30 years, this week the U.S. House of Representatives is set to hold an up-or-down vote on the Armenian Genocide Resolution (H. Res. 296), a bipartisan measure locking in U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide, the first genocide of the 20th century. If adopted, this resolution would strike a powerful blow against the gag-rule Turkey has long enforced against genuine American remembrance of the Armenian Genocide.
Following Rules Committee passage yesterday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) announced that the H. Res. 296 would be on the House docket on Tuesday, October 29, 2019, setting up a potential vote as early as this afternoon.
“We applaud the action taken by the Rules Committee led by Chairman James McGovern (D-MA), the remarks by Committee Member Donna Shalala (D-FL) and the powerful testimony by House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY) along with Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA),” stated Armenian Assembly of America Executive Director Bryan Ardouny. Yesterday’s “adoption of the rule for H.Res. 296 sets the stage for a historic vote on the House floor,” he said.
ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian called the resolution a “signal” to Turkey “that Washington won’t be bullied, U.S. policy can’t be hijacked, and American principles are not for sale.”
In addition to Armenian American organizations, major Greek American and Assyrian organizations are supporting the measure as they have since the beginning, one of the largest Christian groups in the U.S. the National Council of Churches, and once again Jewish American leaders from the Anti Defamation League and American Jewish Committee have strongly endorsed U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide.
“The Armenian community of Florida is uniquely positioned to play a decisive role in passage of H. Res. 296, the Armenian Genocide Resolution in 2019,” stated FLArmenians.com Editor Taniel Koushakjian. “Florida is now the third largest state in the U.S., the home of the Winter White House, and boasts one of the fastest growing Armenian communities in America. Let’s all make our voices heard today. Get on social media, send an email to your friends, and pick up your phone and dial your Congressman today!”
Call Your Representative’s DC Office This Morning –– Vote Could Happen This Afternoon
Yes, it’s it’s really happening. The U.S. House of Representative, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), is set to vote on the Armenian Genocide Resolution as early as this afternoon. It has over 140 cosponsors.
Here is a list of Florida’s Congressional delegation and their DC office phone numbers. If you don’t know who your Congressman is, click here to find out. We’ve also written a sample phone script for you, just scroll down.
Seven (7) of Florida’s 27 Members of Congress are cosponsors of the Armenian Genocide Resolution, they are in bold. Reps. Lois Frankel (D-FL) and Charlie Crist (D-FL) just signed on this morning –– joining original cosponsors Reps. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Ross Spano (R-FL), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL), and Donna Shalala (D-FL) –– indicating they are likely to vote in favor of the resolution.
Call your Congressman/woman and ask them to VOTE YES on H. RES. 296. If he/she is a cosponsor, be sure to thank him/her for their cosponsorship!
Matt Gaetz (R-FL-1): (202) 225-4136
Neal Dunn (R-FL-2) (202) 225-5235
Ted Yoho (R-FL-3): (202) 225-5744
John Rutherford (R-FL-4): (202) 225-2501
Al Lawson (D-FL-5): (202) 225-0123
Michael Waltz (R-FL-6): (202) 225-2706
Stephanie Murphy (D-FL-7): (202) 225-4035
Bill Posey (D-FL-8): (202) 225-3671
Darren Soto (D-FL-9): (202) 225-9889
Val Demings (D-FL-10): (202) 225-2176
Daniel Webster(R-FL-11): (202) 225-1002
Ross Spanno (R-FL-15): (202) 225-1252
West Coast Florida
Gus Bilirakis (R-FL-12): (202) 225-5755
Charlie Crist (D-FL-13): (202) 225-5961
Kathy Castor (D-FL-14): (202) 225-3376
Vern Buchanan (R-FL-16): (202) 225-5015
Greg Steube (R-FL-17): (202) 225-5792
Francis Rooney (R-FL-19): (202) 225-2536
Brian Mast (R-FL-18): (202) 225-3026
Alcee Hastings (D-FL-20): (202) 225-1313
Lois Frankel (D-FL-21): (202) 225-9890
Ted Deutch (D-FL-22): (202) 225-3001
Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL-23): (202) 225-7931
Frederica Wilson (D-FL-24): (202) 225-4506
Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL-25): (202) 225-4211
Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL-26): (202) 225-2778
Donna Shalala (D-FL-27): (202) 225-3931
Sample Phone Script
Hello, my name is (Your Name) and I am calling from (Your City).
H.Res.296, the Armenian Genocide Resolution, is coming up for a vote on the House floor this week and when it does I urge you to VOTE YES.
It’s about time America spoke honestly about the Armenian Genocide. The world knows the truth. 49 U.S. States including Florida acknowledge the Armenian Genocide. This vote is important for many reasons. Do the right thing and vote YES when it comes up for a floor vote.
My family, friends and the local community will be watching this vote on C-SPAN and I look forward to seeing you cast your YES vote on this measure.
Don’t have time to make a call? Click here to send a pre-written email to your Representative. All you have to do is click here, enter your address, and click twice.
After you take action, forward this email to 3 friends, coworkers, or family members and tell them why it’s important to you!
If you use social media today, be sure to use the hashtags #ArmenianGenocide and #FLArmenians.
Florida Congressman Ted Deutch, 35 House Members Call to Substantially Increase Aid for Armenia and Artsakh
Armenian Assembly Boosts Congressional Call for $100 million Democracy-Building and Economic Assistance Package
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL) joined 35 of his House colleagues in a letter that urges the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs to significantly increase prior aid requests to strengthen United States-Armenia relations and outlines key priorities for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020, the Armenian Assembly of America announced. The letter was spearheaded by Armenian Caucus Founder and Co-Chair Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), and Caucus Vice Chair Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA).
With sweeping cuts across the State Department’s budget, the Administration proposed $6.75 million for Armenia. A prior congressional effort requested $70 million, but today’s action increases the request to a total of $100 million for Armenia and Artsakh. The Armenian Assembly said that it “truly appreciates today’s action, and will continue working for further increases to Artsakh and Armenia.”
Four Members of Congress from Florida sit on the House Appropriations Committee: Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL), Rep. Mario Diaz-Bolart (R-FL), Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL), and Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL). Reps. Deutch and Crist are Members of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues.
The Armenian Caucus initiative requests:
- $60 million for economic governance and rule of law assistance to Armenia through State Department and USAID accounts;
- $10 million for military aid for Armenia through Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and International Military and Education Training (IMET) programs;
- $20 million for Armenia to be a regional “safe haven” for refugees;
- $6 million for Artsakh de-mining, rehabilitation programs, and water supply systems;
- $4 million for implementation of the Royce-Engel peace proposals, including placement of OSCE-monitored, advanced gunfire locator systems;
- That the State Department and USAID lift any official or unofficial restrictions on U.S. travel, communication, or contacts with Artsakh government officials; and
- The suspension of U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan until it has been verified to have ceased all attacks against Armenia and Artsakh.
The letter states in part: “In the wake of the Republic of Armenia’s remarkable Velvet Revolution, we are writing to thank the Subcommittee for its longstanding leadership in support of both Armenia and the Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh). As you prepare the Fiscal Year 2020 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations bill, we ask you to include… provisions supporting a broad-based strategic upgrade of a U.S.-Armenia partnership based upon shared interests and common values.”
The Members of Congress also called for stricter provisions of Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act to ensure that Azerbaijan does not take hostile actions against Armenia or Artsakh, as it did in the 2016 4-Day War, and pledge to demonstrate its commitment to pursuing lasting peace through solely non-violent means.
The letter concludes: “Taking these steps will continue to build on the U.S.-Armenia strategic relationship and help to grow the seeds of pro-democratic and civil society institutions in Armenia. We urge the Subcommittee to invest in peace and assist Armenia and Artsakh at this exciting time of continued development.”
“The Armenian Assembly welcomes this increased request in funding to Armenia. Given the remarkable democratic transformation last year in Armenia, we know that the community expects even more,” Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny said. “Moreover, the OSCE’s Election Observation Mission Report stated that the elections ‘were held with respect for fundamental freedoms and enjoyed broad public trust that needs to be preserved through further electoral reforms.'”
Additionally, the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe’s (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) reported that “election day proceeded calmly, peacefully, free of pressure on or intimidation of voters” and “the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression was respected.”
Earlier this month, Assembly Co-Chair Van Krikorian, in testimony before the House Appropriations Subcommittee, requested $100 million in democracy and economic assistance, at least $10 million in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and International Military Education Training (IMET) to Armenia for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020, and $20 million to help resettle and provide a safe haven for Christians at risk in Syria and throughout the Middle East, with at least $25 million in assistance to Artsakh. Krikorian cited Armenia’s remarkable year as more than a reason to significantly increase humanitarian aid, suggesting to the Subcommittee that the United States should “reward people who have made progress towards democracy.”
Krikorian applauded the Subcommittee for holding the important hearing, and greatly appreciated “Chairwoman Nita Lowey’s leadership and steadfast support for Armenia and Artsakh.”
Given Turkey and Azerbaijan’s ongoing blockades, the Assembly’s written testimony also shed light on the importance of aid to Armenia and Artsakh, the need to fully enforce Section 907 of the FREEDOM Support Act, and targeted assistance for economic development and job-creation programs in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region of the Republic of Georgia.
The Armenian Assembly’s submitted testimony for FY 2020 is available online.
Senate Confirms Next U.S. Ambassador to Turkey; Vote on Nominees to Yerevan, Baku Expected in December
By Taniel Koushakjian
FLArmenians Managing Editor
This week, the House and Senate considered measures concerning the Armenian American community. Congress was expected to pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) to avoid a government shutdown on September 30th, when current funding is set to expire. However, after President Obama’s primetime address on September 10th calling for the arming of Syrian rebels, the House voted on a measure to do just that and attached it as an amendment to the CR, setting up a complex and very interesting pattern of voting.
In what Roll Call described as a vote “fractured along untraditional [party] lines,” the House approved the CR 319-108, and 273-156 on the amendment to arm Syrian rebels. 143 Democrats joined 176 Republicans in support of the CR, while 55 Democrats and 53 Republicans opposed. On the Syria amendment, 159 Republicans were joined by 114 Democrats in support of the measure, while 85 Republicans and 71 Democrats opposed.
According to several interviews with Armenian American community leaders across the United States, an overwhelming majority support US airstrikes against ISIL. However, they do not support President Obama’s call to train and arm Syrian rebel factions, especially in the wake of the Turkish-backed rebel assault on the Christian Armenian town of Kessab, Syria earlier this year.
An analysis by FLArmenians.com reveals that House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-FL), and Congressmen Alan Grayson (D-FL), and David Jolly (R-FL) voted against arming Syrian rebels, yet supported the CR.
Republican Congressmen Ted Yoho (R-FL), Ron DeSantis (R-FL), Bill Posey (R-FL), Richard Nugent (R-FL), Tom Rooney (R-FL), and Curt Clawson (R-FL) voted against both the amendment arming Syrian rebels and the CR. Interestingly, Democratic Congressman Alcee Hastings (D-FL), a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL), opposed President Obama on both the Syrian amendment and the CR.
Everyone else stood with President Obama in supporting the amendment to arm Syrian rebels and for the CR.
While it is clear that Armenian Americans support the President’s vow to “destroy and ultimately defeat ISIL,” they are wary of training and arming Islamic rebel factions with known ties to al-Qaeda and that have a record of attacking Christians just like ISIL.
Florida Armenians have an important role to play in this debate. Many Armenian American families in Florida emigrated from Syria, mostly descendants of the 1915 Armenian Genocide. Some still have relatives there. They are uniquely familiar with the regional dynamics and can provide critical insight into what groups truly protect and respect religious minorities, be they Christian Armenian, Assyrian, or Yezidi.
Ambassador Nominees to Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey
On Wednesday, the Senate voted 98-0 to confirm John R. Bass as the next U.S. ambassador to Turkey. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ), and Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Mark Kirk (R-FL), and Ed Markey (D-MA) submitted to the nominee questions on the Armenian Genocide and Turkey’s blockade of Armenia. “We commend Chairman Menendez, and Senators Barbara Boxer, Mark Kirk and Ed Markey for their stance on issues concerning Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide, the Turkish-Azerbaijani blockade of Armenia, and other critical issues affecting the region,” stated Armenian Assembly of America Executive Director Bryan Ardouny. “Following in the footsteps of Henry Morgenthau, the U.S. ambassador to the Ottoman Empire who in 1915 alerted the world to the Armenian Genocide, it is important that our Foreign Service officers execute a foreign policy that appropriately reflects America’s values,” he said.
Both Florida Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) supported Bass’ nomination without question.
Also on Wednesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee heard testimony from President Obama’s nominees to be the next U.S. ambassador to Armenia and Azerbaijan, Richard M. Mills and Robert F. Cekuta, respectively. Both are expected to be confirmed by the full Senate sometime during the lame-duck session, which is scheduled to begin on Wednesday, November 12th.